Ten faithful worshippers were given a special award by the Bishop of Portsmouth to mark their commitment to the Church and the wider community.
The Rt Rev Christopher Foster presented each of them with a St Thomas Award, named in honour of St Thomas a Becket, patron saint of our cathedral. It took place during Evensong at the cathedral last night (Sunday 7May).
It’s the second year that Bishop Christopher has presented St Thomas Awards to long-serving stalwarts from Church of England parishes across south-east Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
Among the recipients was 93-year-old Bunty Alderton, from St James Church, Yarmouth, on the Isle of Wight. She was praised for years of service in leading church groups, as well as her ongoing commitment to her church and local community.
Bishop Christopher said: “At the age of 93, she can still be found varnishing the porch door and vacuuming the pews, as well as delivering parish magazines or collecting for Christian Aid.”
Congregation members from St John’s Church, Forton, in Gosport, turned up to the cathedral waving flags and carrying balloons to celebrate the St Thomas Awards being presented to John and Linda Green. Unfortunately Linda wasn’t able to attend, due to ill-health, but she was praised for her work helping with Sunday School, arranging flowers and washing church linen.
John (pictured right with his supporters) was given the award for his work assisting with worship, serving as churchwarden and parish treasurer for many years, and volunteering and fundraising in the community. The bishop also praised him for his expertise at fixing toilet cisterns and changing lightbulbs.
“It is a real honour to be given this award, and I know Linda would feel honoured too,” he said. “It is slightly embarrassing to have the congregation turning up with flags to wave, but it’s lovely that they want to support me.”
Among the other recipients were Rose Ashton, who was recognised for her role as churchwarden at Niton parish church, and for fundraising for both Niton and Whitwell churches on the Isle of Wight.
Alan Hoad was presented with an award for his service as churchwarden at St Mary’s Church, Hayling Island, where he played a major role in the stunning transformation of the interior of the church.
Canon Marion Syms, from Portsmouth Cathedral, was recognised for supporting others in the development of their spirituality, and in counselling at the All Saints Counselling Centre based at All Saints Church in the city. She also has a high-profile role in the Inter-Diocesan West Africa Link, which links our parishes with Anglicans in Ghana.
Brian and Beulah Walters, from St Cuthbert’s Church, Copnor, received the award for their contributions to parish life over the past 50 years. Beulah was churchwarden while the church building was split into three parts in a 12-year, £4.5m project – creating a GPs’ surgery and community facilities as well as a new worship area.
Brian has been involved in the financial side of church life for two decades, and both Brian and Beulah have offered hospitality, raised funds, prayed and helped those who were ill, and supported the worship and social life of the church.
Jenny Tait, from St James Church, Clanfield, was rewarded for her commitment to youthwork and discipleship, and is currently running a joint youth group with St Wilfrid’s Church, Cowplain.
And the Rev Michael Harper was given a St Thomas Award for his long service as a deacon, serving the churches of Leigh Park and Warren Park over the past 30 years, as well as working in schools in Warren Park and Bidbury.
Bishop Christopher said: “These are, of course, just a very few examples of the commitment and service offered by so many in the parishes, congregations and communities of the Isle of Wight and south-east Hampshire. In serving their community and parish and congregation, they are serving our Lord, who we seek to follow as disciples.”
TOP: Recipients after Evensong in the cathedral: (back, from left): Rose Ashton (from Whitwell), John Green (from Gosport), Bishop Christopher, Alan Hoad (from Hayling Island), the Rev Michael Harper (from Leigh Park and Warren Park). (front, from left): Brian and Beulah Walters (from Copnor, Portsmouth), Canon Marion Syms (from Portsmouth cathedral), Bunty Alderton (from Yarmouth), and Jenny Tait (from Clanfield).
ABOVE: A separate photo shows worshippers from St John’s Church, Forton, supporting John Green (front, centre) as he receives his award
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