GrapevineTHE VOICE OF HOPE FOR HASTINGS
Summer 2017 No 60 PPLRAAEESANASSDDEON
Wheels of Mercy… TWO vehicles handed over DISTFRIOBRUFTIROEEN
Junior doctor on a long hard road
Church in action… in 31 ways
My love affair with Sierra Leone
30 years of St Michael’s hospice
Thanks for the past, hope
LOAF PROJECT CHAIRMAN DR JOHN our editor and John Hawkins our designer
GEATER MBE LOOKS BACK OVER 40 YEARS throughout the 20 years.
AND POSES A FRESH CHALLENGE
This year also marks the ‘ruby’ (40th)
Cover picture: Welcome to this, the 60th edition of anniversary of Loaf itself. It started in 1977 when
The peaceful grounds Grapevine, published by Loaf Project a group of Christians working in and around the
of St Michael’s hospice. in association with Church Together in town centre decided to meet for ‘lunch out and
See News p14. Hastings and St Leonards. fellowship’ (Loaf) twice a month and to find ways
to express their faith in practical terms.
The first front cover in For 20 years it has brought news of
1997. The Loaf Project what church and people have been doing The following year Loaf Project launched with
that year was to secure together to relieve poverty and distress a 21-mile sponsored walk to raise money for an
the future of Mango both at home and overseas. ambulance for relief work in South Sudan’s Nuba
Tree House, which Mountains.
rescued and cared for We are so grateful to our advertisers and
orphaned, abused and regular donors who make this possible, and Initially intended as a youth activity, this first
abandoned children in also a big thank-you to Rev Wallace Boulton Loaf Walk brought together over 200 people of all
ages including the mayor and several councillors as
the Philippines. x well as a number of church leaders.
Over the next 12 months the money raised
not only bought the Land Rover ambulance but
provided transportation and fuel costs for a year
The impetus continued throughout the next few
years. In 1984 enough money was raised to install
a water supply to three towns in Ethiopia.
A highlight of this project was when the Bishop
of Lewes led 26 local church leaders on a mile-long
walk from the harbour arm to the pier through the
sea at low tide.
This led to a front-page photograph on the front
page of The Guardian with the caption ‘Bishop
walks on water’.
Over the years Loaf Project has raised around
half a million pounds for relief work in the poorer
parts of the world, usually where there is local
contact and we know the money is well used.
There has been great diversity in what has been
achieved through concerted church action and,
increasingly in recent years, community groups.
A whole school was built in Rwanda... a
replacement engine was supplied for an aircraft
used for relief work in Tanzania… 10,000 trees were
planted in Ethiopia so that the desert could come to
life… clinics were built in Africa and South America…
and a camel-breeding project was set up in Kenya.
Bearing in mind how much more the pound
was worth when we set up, in today’s terms this
equates to £1.5 million well spent.
for the future
In addition, the rebuilding of bridges in war- Wide vision
torn Hastings Sierra Leone led to the Hastings But to continue to make an impact needs church
Sierra Leone Friendship Link and the twinning of leaders and members with a wide vision working
the two towns. passionately together to create a better world; to
see changed lives and a changed society.
Dedicated people ‘Who will The leaders of Loaf and activists in Church
All this activity does not just take up the Together (some of them the same people!)
happen by chance. It is through are getting older and there is a desperate
the dedication of people who are baton?’ need for new, younger blood and new vision.
committed to both the unity of the Who will take up the baton to obey the
church and the community in this heartfelt prayer of our Lord for unity of his One of the Loaf
town and a desire to serve the needy followers and that they work together for the poor, to provide a
wherever they are. the weak and the dispossessed: to see the kingdom of for a Mission
We see this in such local initiatives as Street God spreading? Cessna aircraft in
Pastors, Hope Kitchen, Snowflake and Christians Will the different parts of the church across this town Tanzania. x
Against Poverty. rise to the challenge? Will you?
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LOAF PROJECT ACHIEVEMENT
Wheels of Mercy…TWO
Well, we made it – or rather we did it This Loaf project, Wheels of Mercy, originally
together! In April Dr Shakil Malik, a key had a target of £10,000 to provide a much
figure in the Wheels of Mercy project, needed minibus. But the centre was steadily
was able to purchase two minibuses expanding to twice the size.
and hand over the keys to the Centre
for Profound Education in Islamabad, It became apparent that it would be better
Pakistan. to buy two slightly smaller vehicles to cover
different areas of the city.
Dr Shakil Malik handing It means that more children ‘Salmina Strenuous efforts
over the keys of the with learning difficulties and/ started the The project was therefore extended
or physical disabilities will be work in her to Easter 2017. By then the extra
two vehicles x able to get to the centre. This funding was raised, thanks in no
will especially benefit severely small part to contributions from
own home’ two Anglican parishes a few miles
from Hastings. Plus the strenuous
efforts of a local vicar who has twice
been sponsored in running the Hastings half-
There have also been some very generous
individual donations and this support has come
from people of different faith communities.
Nowhere to go
The founder and leader of the Centre for
Profound Education is Salmina Iqbal. She started
the work in her own home five years ago for
children with serious disabilities such as cerebral
palsy, autism and Down’s syndrome.
They had nowhere to go and no one to
believe in them. The centre offers them safety,
kindness and, most important, the ability to
develop their talents and abilities. They are
accepted and loved.
His Place Art Café
& Community Centre
Hastings, TN34 1HL
Mon, Tues, Thur, Fri, Sat
www.hisplaceartcafe.co.uk Tel: 01424 423501
Supported by Sussex Community Foundation
WHEELS OF MERCY
vehicles handed over
Sussex connection Many of the paintings were copies of cartoons and Mozna sketching a
From its early days the centre has attracted the fashion pictures. They were not exceptional, not member of the centre
interest and support of several doctors in the Sussex very striking. But she seemed proud of them. staff, and below, with
Partnership NHS Trust. The main link has been
through Dr Shakil Malik, a clinical director of the trust. Hidden between them however were a few her teacher x
paintings drawn from fantasy or still-life. Mozna
Three local doctors have paid visits to the centre shrugged them off, as if she was ashamed of them.
as well as three from Prime, the locally-based
Christian medical education charity. These were the drawings that were truly ‘her’ –
and they were exceptional! >
They have provided hands-on training to the
staff. This has all been in their own time and
funded by themselves.
One of the visiting doctors has been Connie
Meyer, a local consultant psychiatrist.
She is also an accomplished artist, which adds
poignancy to the story she tells here of one of the
girls at the centre. She has been sponsoring Mozna
for three years.
THE STORY OF MOZNA
On one of my visits a father came with
his daughter Mozna and asked me to look
through a pile of her drawings and paintings.
Mozna was deaf: a shy, pale, thin girl hidden
behind her headscarf.
LOAF PROJECT ACHIEVEMENT WHEELS OF MERCY
Dr Shakil Malik meeting Hidden talent
Here was a proper talent, hidden between drawings
Mozna at the centre > and paintings she believed she was expected to do
and copies of the work of others.
It would be a struggle to develop this talent.
It required time and patience for her to develop
confidence, courage and the ability to express
This would be hard for a girl in Pakistan and one
with a disability that limits her communication in
The centre was determined to help Mozna.
Rather than looking at the difficulties they looked
at the possibilities and the opportunities.
‘Mozna The centre hired a teacher to help
showed how Mozna develop her own style. She
was encouraged and supported in her
The technique she had used was she viewed academic work.
the world’ Over three years she became more
confident and her true talent shone
way beyond that expected for her through.
age. She had experimented with different Exhibitions were organised where Mozna
styles and materials. Above all she had managed to could sell her paintings. Sometimes she would earn
show a glimpse of how she viewed the world and more in one exhibition than a teacher would earn
what was important to her. in a month.
Her academic work got better and better and at
the end of this school year Mozna received a gold
WHEELS medal for her outstanding achievements in the exams.
OF MERCY Who would have thought this possible five years
ago? Were it not for the input, the support, the
enthusiasm and dedication of the centre and
A CELEBRATION TO MARK its staff the story would have been completely
THE SUCCESS OF THIS The story has not ended yet. There is still the
LOAF PROJECT stigma of her disability. Is her family going to invest
in her education and development when she leaves
with food, music the centre?
What else is going to cross her path? What
and latest news situation will she get into where she is judged on
her disability? Will she ever become an art teacher,
Saturday September 30th which is what she wants?
For the moment we can only be happy and
at 7.00pm proud that she has come so far and achieved so
at Concordia Hall, much and be grateful to the centre for helping her
Church Road, St Leonards to develop herself against all odds.
We should remember also the resilience, the
talent and the determination of Mozna herself and
where it has brought her, and be hopeful.
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Junior doctor on a
Interview by TOM FINDS Tom’s father was an accountant in Sri Lanka
Wallace INSPIRATION AND IS AN and then in this country after the family moved
Boulton ENCOURAGEMENT TO here. He suffered kidney failure and had two
transplants. He died when Tom was 15.
Tom Fonseka in the
OTHERS It was at that point that Tom first wanted to
Conquest chapel x become a renal transplant surgeon. ‘I believe it
8 GRAPEVINE It is taking Thomas Fonseka nine or was part of God’s purpose,’ he says.
ten years of intense preparation to Tom was brought up in a Christian home
fulfil his ambition to become a but drifted away from faith at university. ‘It
transplant surgeon. became a more distant relationship,’
It is a long, hard road ‘A couple he admits. ‘I was faltering at medical
but his Christian faith school and didn’t fit into university.’
is giving him a new offered them A friend at King’s College invited
inner strength. Not only him to a lively London church. ‘I
that, but he is a great open house’ discovered what being a Christian
encourager of others. really meant’, says Tom. He came
to a personal commitment and was
baptised at 21.
Tom is now on the latter part of that long road.
He has gained his medical and surgery degree
(MBBS) and BSc in anatomy. He is now at the
stage of gaining wide experience in different
The final stage will be ‘shadowing’ a renal
transplant surgeon. For how long is Tom called a
junior doctor? ‘Right up until I am a consultant,’
There was only a limited time to meet Tom in the
hospital chapel and at one point we had to break
off as he was called away.
Like other hospitals, the Conquest is short
staffed. Junior doctors work in a pressured
environment and Tom feels they are often
His duty is from 8.30am to 6.00pm. One day
a week he is on call until 8.30pm, as well as over
two weekends a month.
Tom has been at the Conquest since last summer,
working in turn in the acute admissions unit,
respiratory medicine, intensive care unit and
‘When I started here it was for me a new
hospital in a new town,’ says Tom. ‘I knew it was
important first to find Christian community.
long, hard road
‘Thankfully Graham Atfield, the Conquest They have been meeting once a fortnight, but y Precious time
chaplain, was on hand and with John Geater’s at other times the couple will get a call asking ‘Can
guidance, a prayer group was set up for the we come round?’ out for this group of
Christian staff workers here.’ junior doctors, with
They have been finding other Christians ‘hidden’ their supporters on
Tragic loss in the hospital, encouraging them to ‘stand up and the beach
Sadly one junior doctor committed suicide a few be counted’.
months into the job. GRAPEVINE 9
‘We as Christians can be a tangible force for
Tom worked with the chaplain to set up a good in the hospital, doing Christ’s work,’ says Tom.
memorial service and to support the staff who
were most affected. Musical talent
To relax Tom enjoys playing the saxophone. He has
‘The prayer group has been a tremendous been part of the church music group at Kings as
support to me personally,’ says Tom. He has also well as playing occasionally at gigs. He has been
established a junior doctor support group for those training in karate and likes drawing and sculpting.
who don’t necessarily identify as Christians.
The time has come for Tom to move on from
Graham Atfield and the assistant chaplain, his year at the Conquest to a year’s experience
Michael Turnbull from St John’s Upper St between two London hospitals. There is no break in
Leonards, are also part of the group. ‘It’s a team between.
effort,’ says Tom.
First there is a spell of four months in A & E at
Relaxing together St Thomas’, then two four-month spells at Guy’s,
They had nowhere to meet and relax outside the first in old-age psychiatry, then urology.
hospital. Hearing of the need, a couple of local
church members spontaneously offered them ‘open He will be missed at the Conquest, but his
house’ at their home and beach hut. positive spirit and encouragement will now be
shared in other hospitals as Tom continues to work
towards his goal.
Church in action … in 31 ways
Photos by There were a record 31 displays of Dr Alan Storkey, an economist and sociologist.
Bruce Wick Christian projects at this year’s Unity Their theme, with a visual presentation, was
Service organised by Church Together in
Hastings and St Leonards. the church and its prophetic calling.
The lively singing was led by a music group
The stands attracted plenty of interest before
and after the service. The event was held at the from Ashburnham Place.
Hastings Centre on The Ridge, the church home
of Kings, which provided hospitality. Being challenged
John Lyttle, who chairs Church Together,
Again this year there was a full house in the introduced the proceedings.
main auditorium for the service, with extra
chairs being brought in. The mayor and deputy He was very heartened. He remarked
mayor were among those present. afterwards, ‘It was good to see so many Christians
joining together, and being challenged by our
The speakers were Rev Dr Elaine Storkey, two speakers to think and serve more widely in
author and broadcaster, who ministers in six today’s world.
rural parishes in North Wales, and her husband
‘The record number of displays was very
impressive. Nine of them were new this year.’
Rev Dr Elaine Storkey in
full flow. Beside her is her
husband, Dr Alan Storkey, the
other main speaker
CHRISTINE LANE’S NOTEBOOK
My love affair with
dual carriageway between Waterloo and Freetown.
Large parts were being built at the same time,
creating even more dust and chaos than usual. It is
being built with Chinese money and should make
the journey from Hastings to Freetown much
‘Surgery quicker, albeit with a toll to pay.
made it To add to this there is a new road
possible for me being created within Hastings itself.
to travel’ Anniversary time
Our teachers had a successful visit to their
twin schools and we celebrated the tenth
anniversary of the formation of the Hastings
Sierra Leone Friendship Link.
The celebration was repeated on our return to
the UK, courtesy of Michael Foster in the regalia of
the High Sheriff of East Sussex.
It was through his auspices, when he was
our MP, that Loaf Project was first asked to help
Hastings in Sierra Leone. This led eventually to the
official twinning. For me it was the start of a love
affair with Sierra Leone.
y Highway under Remember that picture in Grapevine of Workshop visit
some of us in the mud and rain on the So in March I returned to Sierra Leone for
construction: it will new-year prayer walk round the town? another visit. This time it was to facilitate a Prime
speed the journey from Five minutes later I slipped over and broke workshop.
Hastings to Freetown my left wrist, which was already damaged.
Prime, based in Battle, is a Christian medical
12 GRAPEVINE Being left handed, it could have been a personal education charity now working in 35 countries.
disaster. However, God had other ideas. Surgery ten It was founded by our Loaf chairman, Dr John
days later made it possible for me to travel with Geater MBE.
our party of teachers to our twin town of Hastings
in Sierra Leone. On my earlier visit I had been able to prepare
for the workshop, with the enthusiastic support of
This visit certainly showed a difference. Road two of the clinic’s community health officers.
works had begun with a vengeance, to provide a
This time I was joined by two Prime tutors,
Dr Bill Ward and Dr Ron Rhodes. They ran the
workshop for some of the workers from Hastings
health centre, together with others from the local
area and from Freetown.
It was held over two days at the Twin-Town
Centre. This had been built with money given by
many people in Hastings here, mostly through
The event was a big success and I felt greatly
privileged to have played a very small part in the
presentation of ‘whole-person medicine’.
HASTINGS SIERRA LEONE FRIENDSHIP LINK
Malnourished children a programme at the large Connaught hospital in y One of the workshop
I used to think that there was little likeness Freetown, the capital.
between the two Hastings but I am beginning to groups in Hastings
see there are quite a few similarities. It was attended by senior doctors, community Sierra Leone
health officers, nurses and students. The feedback
In particular I was worried about the from virtually everyone was very positive, most < Celebrating the
malnourished children attending the schools scoring it 9 or 10 out of ten.
there. However I understand that we too have this tenth anniversary of
problem within our own town. The comments showed a hunger to learn more the Hastings Sierra
about how to deliver truly compassionate high Leone Friendship Link in
The government in Sierra Leone is trying to pull quality care to their patients. our town hall
together services in all the health facilities after the
devastation of both the rebel war and the ebola This short visit will pave the way for greater
outbreak. help to the very hard pressed health workers in
On my journeys this year I met such interesting Much of this will be provided by some of the
people... an ex-cabinet minister and his wife… the many Prime tutors in Nigeria. There the value of
wife of the British ambassador… an artist who had whole person care, embodying spiritual values
been working in one of our schools here and then of compassion, integrity and altruism, has been
in Freetown… and the brother of the first doctor to adopted by the 2,500-strong Christian Medical
die of ebola in Sierra Leone. and Dental Association. Some of them will be part
of the next training programme in Sierra Leone in
I don’t believe these were chance meetings. October this year.
Every one of them added to the richness of my
love of both Hastings.
Hopefully, my next visit to Sierra Leone will take
place in the not too distant future. I wonder who I
will meet on my journey.
Dr John Geater adds:
After their teaching in Hastings Sierra Leone the
Prime tutors Dr Bill Ward and Dr Ron Rhodes ran
St Michael’s Hospice y Hospice celebrates what has become the hospice movement across
30th anniversary the country and, indeed, the world.
This is the 30th anniversary year of St ‘Dame Cicely understood that people should live
Michael’s Hospice. At a celebration event in as well as they can until the moment of death and
April there were recollections of Sheila Leach only holistic care can support them through that.’
and her inspirational committee. They had
the foresight and determination to found a The chairman said of the 30 years of St Michael’s
hospice in St Leonards. Hospice, ‘What was inspiring was the way the
hospice has been, and continues to be, supported
This is also the 50th anniversary year of the first by the community in Hastings and Rother.’
such hospice, St Christopher’s in south London. It
was founded by Dame Cicely Saunders, pioneer of There is a bumper programme of events in
the hospice movement. support of St Michael’s Hospice in this 30th
anniversary year. Among them is The Big Sing at St
Irene Dibben, chair of St Michael’s Hospice, said, John’s Pevensey Road on Saturday October 28th,
‘From the start St Christopher’s set a model for when 20 choirs will be singing their hearts out.
Each will perform for 25 minutes, ending with the
Visa refusal is massed Messiah at 9.00pm.
Snowflake needs more
The latest exchange visit here by teachers volunteers
from Hastings Sierra Leone had to be called
off when the application for visas was Local charity Snowflake will be operating
rejected. On appeal however the decision again this coming winter, providing shelter,
was overturned. meals and a bed in church halls for the
genuinely homeless in a friendly and caring
Seven teachers were due to come to the environment.
twinned schools here in May. However a
visit by nine teachers is now being planned Shelter is provided from the end of
from October 13th. November to mid-March. Volunteers are
recruited each autumn and more are needed.
(See advertisement on the back cover)
November 5th Autumn colours in Guestling woods.
Meet at Guestling church at 2.00pm (note earlier start
December 3rd History on our doorstep – a walk
around Old Town and on the East Hill. Meet by All
Saints Church, TN34 2BE at 2.00pm
Good walking shoes are needed. All walkers take part
at their own risk.
Music quiz night
Latest fund-raising event for the Hastings Sierra
Leone Friendship Link is a music quiz night.
It is at St Paul’s School in Horntye Road, St Leonards
on Friday September 13th at 7.30pm.
Entry is £4 a head, with tables for up to six people.
Further information from Robin Gray, 436603 or visit
First Sunday Walks Grapevine is published by Loaf Project (reg charity
no 293855) in association with Church Together
These walks, organised by Loaf Project and in Hastings and St Leonards to encourage action
Church Together in Hastings and St Leonards for the relief of poverty and distress in the local
are continuing to bring groups of people community and overseas.
together to enjoy the countryside around us.
Usually numbering 15-30 people – on occasion
even over 50 – these walks are 3-4 miles long, Loaf chairman Dr John Geater MBE
Everyone is welcome, so bring family and Editor Rev Wallace Boulton
friends. Children can come, so can dogs.
Design John Hawkins 07780 502417
September 3rd Meet at the Queen’s Head at
Icklesham, TN36 4BL at 2.30pm Advertising and distribution
Richard Keep 852131
October 1st Meet at Catsfield car park, a short
distance along Church Road (the road opposite the Treasurer
White Hart), TN33 9DJ at 2.30pm Christine Lane, who is pleased to receive
donations at: 151 Old Roar Road,
St Leonards TN37 7HH Tel 754608
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