Alex Goodman, The Royal Oak

Our Church Warden, Jeffrey writes:

Activity at Whatlington church continues to focus on getting things ready both for Christmas and further ahead for our Formal Re-opening, which is scheduled for the weekend of 8th/9th February 2014, culminating in a service in the church with the Bishop of Chichester at 3pm, a date for the diary.

During the past week the new pews have been delivered, made in Shropshire from European oak these are a significant addition to the building, they are free standing and can be stacked, so give great flexibility and add to the overall look of the building. We also have the Lectern and the Altar newly re-polished and looking very good. The top surface of the Altar bears the scars of falling debris during the fire, all part of the history. We also have a table which was made in memory of two well known ladies associated with the church, Betty Petty & Alice Lavender, the top of this suffered badly in the fire and it now has a new top, replicating the carving made by Edward Haringman.

We have been very well served throughout the restoration by our architect Richard Andrews and by the various craftsmen involved in the work, not least by our builders, Morgan & Morgan of Salehurst who have been the principal contractors.

Sunday 1st Dec. was the first time the new organ has been used and it sounds very good indeed, offering more flexibility and options than the one which was destroyed in the fire. We also welcomed back out 17th century chalice which has been used by generations of villagers to take communion, the Paten, on which the bread is placed is older still and believed to be pre-Reformation. All manner of works still remain to be completed, but each week the church is coming together a little more and by the date for our Christmas Carol service at 10.30am on Dec. 15th it will be ready to welcome people and to offer light refreshments after the service. In the meantime, next weeks service will be at 08.30am and not as is usual for the second Sunday at 10.30am. Thank you Jeffrey.

If you’ve read the Whatlington News you will have heard about the resignation of the Village Hall Committee recently. The committee was made up of just five people and over the past year they have tried to recruit more villagers to assist and support all their efforts to raise money for the upkeep of the building so that this community facility can remain open. Each committee member has had increased personal or work commitments lately and was finding the added pressure of the Village Hall Committee too much to continue with, and some members had been on the Committee for a number of years. If you would like to continue the good work and be involved in organising events for your village then being on the Village Hall committee is an excellent opportunity to do just that! There is a meeting on January 16th at 7pm at The Village Hall to discuss the future of the Village Hall and the outcome will impact on other village events, so if you want to make a difference and have a voice, please go along to the meeting. I’ll keep posting reminders in this column! The Village Hall Committee would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the people who have supported them over the years particularly Wendy who comes and sets up and clears up after nearly every village event - thank you!

The Good Companions had a good day out recently, Hilda writes: “27 members of The Good Companions enjoyed their Christmas luncheon at The Abbey Hotel, Battle last week. The food was delicious and served so quickly, bearing in mind the number of people attending. The group appreciated the excellent service of the staff. Can I please take this opportunity of thanking the staff and the proprietor for their excellent service. This event was supported very well, so could I ask that you try and support the events held during the year please. As January is a very quiet month mostly for all of us, I will try and arrange a luncheon locally so that this will be something to look forward to. As usual we will hold our bring & share post Christmas luncheon in February at the Village Hall if possible. I will notify people of the date. May I wish our members Peace, Happiness and Love at Christmastime and into the New Year.”

Don’t miss out on the Port and cheese tasting evening which is this Saturday 7th September at 9pm at The Royal Oak. This was an excellent event last time, please book in advance on 01424 870492 to ensure we have enough port to go round!!

Festive dates for your diary at The Royal Oak:

Friday 13th - Film Club, we will be showing “The Holiday” from 8pm in The Barn, with popcorn, chocolates and lots of cosy festive cheer.

Thursday 19th - Christmas Quiz with tinsel, baubles, silly questions, chocolates, lollipops and a charity raffle for St Michael’s Hospice.

Christmas Eve - Carols around the bar, led by the wonderful John Shepperd and his mighty organ. This turned into a delightful chaos last year, but was one of the best nights of the year (in my opinion).

If you have any news for this column please email me via info@royaloak-whatlington.co.uk