Using one’s gifts – 3

The third in a series featuring church members with creative gifts

By Mike Rego – whose images may also be found elsewhere on this website

I bought my first ‘proper’ camera with money from my 18th Birthday, and then learnt to develop and print black-and-white film as a student at university using the Camera Club’s darkroom, which enabled me to experiment with different styles and to learn what worked and what didn’t. I photographed much ‘student life’, but as a geologist I also photographed landscapes which was very helpful as well as aesthetically satisfying.

The opportunities that I had to travel and live overseas with my career, often overseas and to remote locations, made me realise how fortunate I was to see so much that in a glimpse would be gone for ever, and that many would never even experience. Some things seem quite ordinary to us at the time, and then suddenly they are gone and forgotten, unless we record them. The seemingly mundane of the here and now becomes yesterday’s longed-for tradition.

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As a student, after my first-year exams I spent a morning photographing the decaying docks in Swansea — oh, how I wish I had spent more time there! — which are now a glitzy marina with bars, coffee shops, boutique hotels, trendy apartments and offices and no sign of the people that toiled there or the major industries they once supported. I have travelled to places such as Siberia, East Africa, and even regularly to North Korea since 2002, and there too there has been much progress, but always it is the people and the human spirit that shine through as the one constant. Even the landscapes around us — especially on Dartmoor — show the influence of not just the underlying geological story on the landscape, but also of mankind, eking out a living.

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I have been lucky to see so much on my travels, and even more to be able to record so much with my camera — whether it is an image of a factory worker in North Korea, a peasant farmer in Siberia, or sheep-shearing in North Bovey. We are all the same and I hope that my images of people especially help to show the uniqueness and commonality of the human spirit.

St Andrew’s War Memorial now Listed

The following letter was received in June from the Listing Co-ordinator of Historic England:

War memorial west of the Church of St Andrew, Moretonhampstead, Devon – Awarded Listed Building Status.  List Entry Number: 1457158

P1030262P1030263 As you will know from our earlier letters, we have been considering adding the above memorial to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.

We have taken into account all the representations made, and completed our assessment of the memorial. I am writing to inform you that having considered our recommendation, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has decided to add War memorial west of St Andrew’s Church to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. The memorial is now listed at Grade II.

Please follow the link below to download a copy of our advice report, which gives the principal reasons for this decision. The List entry for this building, together with a map, has now been published on the National Heritage List for England. This List can be accessed here.

Listing helps us to mark a building’s significance and celebrate its special architectural and historic interest. It brings specific protection so that its special interest can be properly considered in managing its future. Listing does not mean, however, that no alterations can be made – in fact in the vast majority of cases applications to make changes to a listed building are approved. Further information about listed buildings can be found on the ‘Your Home’ pages of our website.

The local planning authority will now be preparing the statutory notices required under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.

The rest of this letter concerns purely administrative matters, but the full text may be obtained from the editors of IN TOUCH – or use the CONTACT button on the website menu.

The Communion Wine at St Andrew’s

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St Andrew’s has, for some time, been supplied with Communion wine by the Stellar Winery in South Africa.  Stellar is a fairtrade organisation — its workforce benefits directly from sales of fairly traded wine and grapes, while the linked Stellar Foundation manages development projects designed to improve the quality of workers’ lives and benefit surrounding communities.  The Winery prides itself on a product which is:

  • Made from organically-grown grapes
  • Ethically produced
  • Fairly traded

But the Stella Winery is more than just an organic wine producer.  Ever since the cellar was founded in 2000, they’ve been refining their ideas on how to create a healthy business that is environmentally, socially and ethically responsible.  Their aim is to make a significant difference to the part of South Africa in which it is located.

For instance, the Stellar Foundation has funded a much-needed pair of spectacles for Hailey, a Grade 12 pupil from a nearby village.  She was just about to start her exams when her original spectacles broke.  She is from a very poor family who would struggle to afford a new pair.  Hailey went on to pass her exams as one of the top pupils in her class.  Stories like this could be multiplied.

So, when you are next at the Communion rail in a service at St Andrew’s, you can give thanks for what the Stellar Winery and the Stellar Foundation are doing to improve the lives of people in South Africa.