Recent Activities at St Stephen’s Church
We have had these fabulous events recently…
‘The Watchful Heart’ Poetry Anthology Launch
On Thursday 7th October 2021, National Poetry Day, we hosted the launch of the new Watchful Heart poetry anthology edited by Helen Evans and Richard Skinner. Pictured below are some of the contributors who are members of the Inner Room creative writing group, a pioneer fresh expressions ministry run by our own church member and writer, Helen Evans. The group launched before the first lockdown and the title of the anthology is based on the poem Everything is going to be All Right by Derek Mahon: ‘The lines flow from the hand unbidden and the hidden source is the watchful heart.’
Harvest Festival 2021
This year our Harvest service was held on Sunday 3rd October in St Petrock’s church at 10.30am. As usual we made a collection of food stuffs for the St Petrock’s Homelessness Centre. Thank you to the Flower Arrangers for the beautiful displays of Autumn colour.
Summer Lunchtime Concerts 2021
The parish are delighted to host the popular July concerts in St Stephen’s this summer after an absence due to the pandemic last year. Our thanks go to all performers for giving their time and energy and to all helpers including the flower arranging team for making St Stephen’s look so summery.
The first concert on Thursday 1st July saw Ruth Molins, on the flute, kindly step in when Heloise West was unable to perform. Ruth was accompanied on the piano by David Davies.
We welcomed the Skylark Quartet to St Stephen’s to perform for the second concert on Thursday 8th July. The quartet are comprised of Lynn Marcell Carter on the oboe, Victoria Loram on the clarinet, Jo Arnason on the bassoon and Judith Hall on the flute.
Our third concert on Thursday 15th July featured Andrew Millington on the piano with Alex Poulton, baritone. They performed a variety of pieces entitled ‘Songs that Inspire’ including work from Benjamin Britten, Mozart and Schubert.
Another splendid concert was enjoyed on Thursday 22nd July where Matthew Wright played for us.
Our final concert featuring Phil Bonser on the clarinet and Dorothy Raven on the piano was held on Thursday 29th July and was enjoyed by a large audience.
More beautiful arrangements…
Our flower arrangers have been busy again producing these lovely arrangements in St Stephen’s church. The yellow and white irises are from the Exeter Thursday market and look radiant.
The Lockdown Quilt (Spring 2020: Creativity in Captivity) and Martin Davison Art Exhibition
Both these wonderful exhibitions ran in St Stephen’s church from Thursday 3rd June to Sunday 6th June. A steady stream of visitors appreciated the stories behind the quilt which was inspired by the Changi Quilt created by women prisoners during the Second World War. The modern day quilt was created by people during the first lockdown and put together by a group of Exeter Quilters. A whole range of techniques have been used to create the squares expressing feelings of hope, gratitude and wonder at the resilience of people and the things that have helped us to cope with the Covid pandemic. All donations are going to Refuge.
Martin Davison (1931-2017), Sheila’s uncle, was a full time painter and his exhibition showcases his talents with a range landscapes and still life pictures. Also, on display was Sheila’s copy of a photobook of some of Martin’s work along with a 2020 calendar with English and Welsh landscapes. All proceeds will go toward church funds.
‘Refreshing Waters’ Music and Meditation
Thursday 13th May 2021 saw us enjoy reflective piano music from Bee Harley including Bee’s ‘River Music and ‘White Horses Waves’ with readings from the Revd Sheila Swarbrick. The music mirrored the wet weather beautifully but gave us all space to enjoy time with our own thoughts and those inspired by the readings from Country Diary articles. £93 has been raised from donations for Christian Aid.
Thank you to the St Stephen’s flower arrangers for the lovely ensemble of yellow tulips in honour of the occasion.
The flower arrangers have been busy and creative once again in St Stephen’s. They welcome our visitors in such a beautiful way.
A bouquet of thanks…
On Sunday 18th April a bouquet of beautiful flowers was presented to Cath Dobson as a small ‘thank you’ for her 20 years of service as a trustee to the Central Exeter Relief in Need (CERN) and St Edmunds and St Mary Major Charities. The parish wish Cath well as she steps down from this role. Both charities regularly provide small crisis grants to those Exeter based individuals, families and organisations who are in need.
Easter Day: Sunday 4th April
This year Easter Day was celebrated in St Martin’s church. These beautiful lilies graced the altar and they were taken to St Pancras church later in the week as the blooms opened fully.
Christmas Music and Meditation
On Saturday 19th December we enjoyed a fabulous treat in St Stephen’s church when Bee Harley (pianist), Matilda Whates (harpist) and Revd Sheila Swarbrick enriched our Christmas preparations with beautiful music and words. ‘What a life affirming hour’ was one reaction to listening to a wonderful range of music from composers such as Handel, Sophia Dussek and Bee Harley. Sheila’s readings included a recent Thought for the Day by Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and the Christmas Affirmation from Christian Aid.
All proceeds to go to Lifting Hands International and St Petrock’s Homelessness Centre.
The flower arrangers have been busy decorating St Stephen’s in time for the festive season.
Presentation to retiring flower arrangers
On Sunday 6th December, the second Sunday in Advent, the parish presented our three retiring flower arrangers with pretty posies and cards to say a big ‘THANK YOU’ for so many years of creating beautiful displays in the the churches.
In addition, thanks were also given to four much valued members of the parish for their amazing work keeping things going during lockdown.
Flowers for Remembrance Sunday
Our lovely flower arrangers were busy last week creating some beautiful arrangements including wreaths to help focus our attention on the upcoming Remembrance Sunday.
Harvest in St Stephen’s
The annual harvest service was held in St Stephen’s on Sunday 4th October 2020. A collection of goods was made for St Petrock’s Homelessness Centre.
Music and Meditation: ‘Peace, flowing like a river’
The Revd Sheila Swarbrick and Bee Harley led prayers with reflective music in St Stephen’s church on Thursday 3rd September at 1pm. The half hour performance was an oasis of calm while we drank in the thoughtful words read by Sheila and the calming piano music played by Bee – a wonderful combination.
All donations from this event are to be sent to Doctors without Borders (msf.org.uk).
Tea Party at the paddock
Members of the parish enjoyed a treat on Sunday 30th August at the parish tea party hosted by Caroline and Ann in their beautiful paddock. The sun shone and we loved sharing chat, tea and delicious cakes. Naturally, all social distancing rules were followed. An added joy was the performance by Ben the Juggler who awed us with his juggling skills.
Thanks to Betsy, Caroline and Ann for organising such a lovely afternoon.
A wedding in St Olave’s church
On Wednesday 8th July the wedding took place at 12noon between Steph Selway and Chris Stokes with Revd Sheila Swarbrick officiating. It was one of the first weddings to take place in Devon since Covid-19 restrictions have been eased. Here are a few photographs of the wedding couple and the gorgeous flowers in the bridal bouquet, arrangements and posies.
Stay and Play:
Saturday 7th March 2020 where the children made lovely Mother’s Day gift boxes.
Saturday 1st February 2020 saw the visiting children making beautiful things with a Valentine’s Day theme.
Saturday 7th September saw the beginning of our Autumn and Winter Stay and Play sessions. The children enjoyed making lots of lovely creations.
Bee’s Summer Lunchtime Concert
Bee and friends gave a glorious concert to a packed audience in St Stephen’s on Thursday 15th August. A fabulous sum of £300 was raised for Refugee Support Devon. Peter Harflett, Dorothy Raven and Tony Raven also participated in the concert.
Summer Lunchtime Concerts 2019
The final lunchtime concert on Thursday 25th July was ‘A Surprise Recital’ with Donna-Marie Broomfield (soprano) and David Davies on the piano. We were delighted to welcome Donna-Marie who stepped in to replace Heloise West who was sadly indisposed. The eclectic programme of arias and piano music moved and amused the audience in equal measure.
St Stephen’s welcomed Lily Neal (violinist) and Matthew Wright (pianist) on Thursday 18th July to the third in the series of concerts.
On Thursday 11th July Nina Leonard Savicevic made a welcome return to St Stephen’s. She is a young, talented pianist who delighted the audience with a range of music including dances, storms and imagination from composers including Bach, Beethoven and Mozart. Nina also gave us a little bit of the history behind each piece. Next year, Nina is looking forward to participating in the BBC Young Musician of the Year programme, which is very exciting.
‘Songs that Inspire’ was the first recital in our series of summer concerts beginning on Thursday 4th July. It featured Alex Poulton, a professional baritone singer, with Andrew Millington on the piano. We were treated to a feast of music from the serious to the silly including pieces from Henry Purcell, Benjamin Britten and Mozart. Andrew played a couple of solos featuring work by Brahms and Lennox Berkeley.
Stay and Play
The children visiting St Stephen’s on Saturday 6th April between 2pm and 3.30pm enjoyed making Easter baskets amongst other activities.
Bee Harley and Friends Lunchtime Concert
Another fabulous concert was held in St Stephen’s on Friday 5th April. All the proceeds go to support Doctors Without Borders.
An Informal Cabaret with Gordon Clarke and Richard Skinner
On the day after nothing happened between us and Europe, Richard Skinner, a member of our Parish, and Gordon Clarke, Richard’s friend from university days produced a cabaret for us – and why not! Richard and Gordon were once part of the well-known Footlights team of Cambridge University and have many years experience of treading the boards writing and performing revues. The material was their own, some of it was even new! But for many of us in the Parish who know them well, the old chestnuts are still the best! We raised £600 from the event, shared between St Petrock’s Homeless Centre in Exeter and St Peter’s Malawi Educational Trust.
NB Richard discovered a day or two late that he had mis-filed some invitations that should have been posted. Very many apologies to any who missed out.
Bee Harley with the Grace Notes Choir
Bee Harley held a carol concert ‘O Light Invisible: Peaceful Christmas Music’ on Friday 14th December in aid of St Petrock’s Homelessness Centre. She was joined by the ‘a capella’ group, Grace Notes. It was a lovely evening of beautiful music.
Nina Savicevic Concert
We continue to follow the progress of the exciting and delightful pianist Nina Savicevic. On Thursday 29th November 2018 she performed three pieces, including ‘La Cathedrale Engloutie’ by Debussy to a small but appreciative audience in St Stephen’s during a lunchtime concert. She is currently studying at Wells Cathedral school, Somerset, but is in the process of applying to a number of Conservatoires and Universities to continue her studies next year.
Tour of Exeter Cathedral
A group of about 20 of us gathered at the Cathedral on Wednesday 21st November 2018 for a tour led by our own Jessica Claridge. Through Jessica’s knowledge, stories and anecdotes we became immersed in the history of this iconic building. Huge ‘thanks’ go to her for allowing us to become more familiar with this fabulous building and some of the the characters who created it.
Huge ‘thanks’ also go to Betsy and Sarah who organised a delicious cream tea for us in a warm St Petrocks’ church, which was enjoyed by everyone after the tour.
Fields of Gold Concert
This concert was organised by Bee Harley and held on Friday 27th July 2018 in St Stephen’s church. The donations given were in aid of Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders).
The first photograph shows Grace Notes Choir – a cappella ensemble for upper voices conducted by Daphne West.
The second photograph is of Bee Harley playing the flute with Peter Harflett accompanying Bee on the piano. Bee also played some piano solos of her own composition.
July 2018, Lunchtime Concerts
Our final concert for this year took place on Thursday 26th July where Alex Poulton (baritone) was accompanied on the piano by Andrew Millington.
Thursday 19th July saw the third of our summer series with Nick Cornish on the oboe and Dorothy Raven playing the piano.
The second concert on Thursday 12th July featured Phil Bonser on the clarinet with David Davies on the piano.
Our first lunchtime concert on Thursday 5th July featured Verity Stroud, singer, with Andrew Daldorph on the piano.
Last year, at the July 2017 concerts, David Davies performed with Heloise West, a mezzo soprano.