Adrian Johnson had spent weeks preparing a vast amount of the staging and seemed to be in several places at once as he positioned everything. The writer felt quite faint as a basket of guillotined heads passed her on it's way to the Dickens display.
The flowers arrived in the afternoon and were placed in buckets in the baptistery ready for distribution. By mid afternoon every one had received their order. The work of constructing the arrangements began on Tuesday with the insertion of foliage and by Wednesday lunchtime flowers had begun to appear. At five o clock the church was looking beautiful and the job of tidying up began.
The Church team had by now removed to the Halls where tables were being laid for dining and prepared for the stallholders. Bill Poole brought his wonderful woodturning, The Christian Bookshop from Preston had a stall, Sandra and Bill ran a produce stall, Elaine Ridgeway brought her lovely jewellery (and is also coming to the Xmas Fair if you are thinking of of presents), Phoenix Cards had an attractive range of cards, paper and Advent Calendars, the Flower Club sold fresh flower arrangements and Miss Tucker came on Saturday with Exquisitely embroidered pictures. Something for everyone!
At 10.am on Thursday Jimmy Armfield opened the Festival and the Mayor of Blackpool Cllr. Sylvia Taylor, with the Mayoress, graciously accepted the invitation to be with us too.
The displays remembered an amazing number of anniversaries starting with our own 100th anniversary of the consecration of the Mission Church (now the large hall) and proceeding past the “Pool's” 125th anniversary to the Zoo and then Titanic. It was interesting to read the information which had been incorporated in some of the displays. Preston Guild was celebrated and the Lady Chapel was dedicated to Our Lady of Walsingham.
The Piano paid tribute to Elvis Presley and Liberace and the area of the lectern and pulpit was dedicated to the Book of Common Prayer and sponsored by the Prayerbook Society. The covers of the prayerbooks had been painstakingly made of leaves. The Nave and Chancel represented the Queen's jubilee and a glorious pedestal in the sanctuary was its highlight.
The Olympics dominated the Baptistry where stunning arrangements represented the arrival of the flame, the Olympic colours and medals and the colours of all the nations taking part. The flowers in the Columbarium, in white and blue commemorated Scott of the Antarctic and Shackleton. The impressive pedestal before the Huddlestone window depicted Jeanne d'Arc and the final displays in th Actors' Chapel celebrated the works of Charles Dickens with a depiction of four of his novels.
As they left the Church to seek refreshment our visitors passed a display of information about S.Stephens prepared by Ann Rowlands which was a source of great interest both to the stranger and to members of the congregation. And so into the Halls for a rest and sustenance. Our team of chef and helpers had worked hard to provide an excellent three course meal and the Snack bar in the large hall did a roaring trade selling sandwiches, cakes and drinks. All the cakes were generously given by our own congregation N.B Jim Cardwell makes fab scones!
The Saturday evening Concert gave us all chance to hear the new organ at its most versatile as Philip played a selection of Sounds from the Theatre and, later, Marching into the Classics. The Choir and the Beecham Singers from Rossall School treated us to a selection of music which concluded with the Last Night of the Proms, when the Church erupted to the strains of Land of Hope and Glory, Rule Britannia and Jerusalem.
The Festival ended on Sunday evening with Songs of Praise to which local Churches were invited. The selection of best known and loved hymns,chosen by members of the congregation was a fitting end to a wonderful event.
In the course of the festival I suspect that most members of our congregation played a part. Thanks to their efforts the sum of £5,000 has been raised. A special thank you must go to Malcolm , who coordinated it so efficiently and of course to the friendly and hardworking ladies of the Flower Club who created the fabulous displays.