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Mary Reeve, Wodens Wood, Cripps Corner

This evening (Friday) the annual Carols on the Green at Ewhurst Green takes place, with mince pies and wine being served and everyone gathering around the Christmas tree to sing the age old carols. The event starts at 6pm and there will be a collection in aid of St James’ and St Mark’s churches.

Parish Christmas celebrations began in earnest last weekend.

On Friday the Garden Society held its festive party and despite the heavy rain and winds a good number of members arrived at the village hall to have an evening of quizzes and delicious food with mulled wine. There was a reminder that the Society will be holding a Quiz Night for all on Saturday January 19 at 7pm in the village hall. You are invited to pit your wits as well as enjoying homemade soups and crusty bread during the evening. Teams of four should sign up with Ruth on 831918.

Also on Friday was the start of the Christmas Tree Festival with those decorating their trees during the morning, ready for the public view and voting in the evening at St James Church, Ewhurst Green, where a Christmas market, mulled wine and mince pies were on offer.

The Tree Festival went on into Saturday when there was a steady stream of visitors to view the decorated trees, buy gifts, mistletoe, cakes, tickets for a splendid raffle, and partake in mince pies, coffee or mulled wine.

The magic of Christmas really began on Saturday evening when the church was lit by flickering candles adding sparkle to the decorations of the trees. The choice of tree voted the best was that of marathon runner Susie Hewer whose decorations were her own crocheted snowflakes. This represented a lot of attractive work which she had done in memory of her mother who suffered from Alzheimers disease.

Churchwarden John Barnes expressed his thanks to everyone for the high standard of tree decoration this year. Those participating were the Cross Inn, Ewhurst, Staplecross and Bodiam Garden Society, Ewhurst Parochial Church Council, Ewhurst United Football Club, Herdman Trust, three entries from Staplecross Primary School - Kestrels, Kingfishers, Swallow, Parish News St James Bell Ringers, Staplecross Arts Group, Staplecross and Ewhurst Green W I, Vinehall School Nursery Department, Alzheimer Society. It was announced on Sunday morning that in the region of £1100 had been raised by the festival.

The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols was, as always, a beautiful occasion and many in the congregation were treated to the delightful voices of three young children who, when the opening bars of Away in a Manger were played by Richard Karn, one of them said “I know this, we sing it at school”. And sing it they did, word perfect, in clear piping voices. It certainly made my Christmas, as well as all those sitting nearby.

The Surviving Christmas campaign headed in the parish by John Barnes yielded an astonishing number of donations and this week John was taking the laden boxes of food, toys, games, toiletries and clothes to the YMCA where they will be assembled by volunteers to suit those in need including families, the elderly or housebound. John said he was overwhelmed at the parish’s response and said even the children of Staplecross School had contributed a cheque. He gave his grateful thanks to all those who had given so generously in recent weeks.

Christmas Church Services are at St Mark’s Staplecross for the midnight Christmas Eve Communion (BCP) at 11.15pm. Christmas Day 9.30am Holy Communion at St James Ewhurst Green.

It just remains for me to wish everyone the happiest of Christmases.