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Burradon Memories Part 5: Church Affairs

The Church of the Good Shepherd has been a haven for me - so full of wonderful memories of people and clergy.

Photograph of Honor Weightman

Honor Weightman

Editor’s Note:
Some of Mrs. Honor Weightman’s memories of a life in Burradon written down and kindly contributed by her daughter Lindsey. These memories have been split into seven separate parts because they have so much rich material in them. If you’d like to read the whole story you’ll need to read Burradon Memories Parts 1 to 7. They cover many aspects of life in Burradon and offer a fascinating insight into village life.

Part Five – Church Affairs

The Church of the Good Shepherd has been a haven for me, as it was for my Mam, so full of wonderful memories of people and clergy. So many I wouldn’t know which one to share with you. So I’ll settle for an occasion that gave me great pleasure and still does. When the Methodist chapel in the village closed, Frank Bartley, who was the priest in charge of the Good Shepherd, was offered the pews. He had them installed in the Church and the Methodist congregation came to help fill them. I felt elated at this first step towards “UNITY”.

The window in the Church of the Good Shepherd is first to the glory of God then, in memory of Mr. Swann (he was churchwarden for 30 years). His wife was his trusted helper for the same length of time. They lived in a little cottage up at the Hillhead, no water or lighting and just a stone floor. I still remember my Mam saying to us kids, “Let’s go up and visit Mrs. Swann, she must be very lonely”. They were kind to all children, although they had none of their own. It was always a pleasure to visit. They had to collect their water from Wiggies’ farm every morning and they read by lamplight. They were a real Christian couple who worshipped a “living god”.

Mrs. Laverick was the first church cleaner I can remember. When she became too old to really do the job, my Mam helped her because she didn’t want to retire. She died sitting at her mat frames and my Mam finished the mat she was making and then carried on making small mats to sell, to help boost church funds. There’s still a little kneeler in the Church. Frank Bartley used to have to kneel on cold tiles up at the altar and Mrs. Allan asked my Mam to make a little mat for him to kneel on.

Gladys Henderson, a nurse by profession, was often referred to as the Florence Nightingale of Burradon. She was always ‘on call’, exhausting herself in the service of others. Brought up in the Methodist tradition, it was painful for her when the chapel closed. However she always worked as her conscience persuaded her and had the ability to adapt to the Anglican way of worship. She shared her many gifts with us. She played the organ, led the singing and was always available on any occasion. She introduced us to Bible study and this helped to develop Christianity for many of us who worship in the Church of the Good Shepherd. Even I could sing standing next to Gladys. We opened the church for funerals and Les (the organist of the time) used to call us the Luton Girls’ Choir.

Gladys and Charlie McLaren give their time during the war to teach first aid and certainly they both helped many people and eased the doctor’s heavy load. I feel sure their epitaph could very well be “well done thou good and faithful servants”.

Mr. and Mrs. Ovens worked tirelessly; they tried all ways to make enough money to keep the Church open. Their daughter, Brenda Ovens, made the altar curtains and altar cloths and her husband Allan Greenwell made the woollen kneelers up at the altar, all at their own expense. Mr. and Mrs. Ovens made the Church their whole way of life, so it seemed fitting that Mr. Ovens died while praying, kneeling in the seat they always occupied.

When Mrs. Ovens could no longer look after herself, she went into a home in Monkseaton and I used to visit her and recall shared memories. The story telling became very popular with the other residents, their faces used to light up when they saw me coming and they would rush to sit in a circle and wait for the story to begin. The favourite story was about Georgie, my Mam’s budgerigar…….. (Continued in Part 6)

I’ll try to put into words exactly what I believe and hope it will be to someone’s benefit. Everyone should leave at least one thought behind. I believe and advise, “Always look for the best possible interpretation of people’s behaviour. Usually the faults we see in others are our own faults”

The people I admire most are seldom great in worldly goods, but are certainly great in heart.

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