Saturday, 27 August 2016

Ian Godfrey

A man of faith, humility and great courage in the face of health issues in his final weeks was how the Rev Ian Godfrey was remembered in tributes at his funeral in Goostrey. 
  But even as he was desperately poorly in a Manchester hospital, Ian was already planning for his work in the parishes once he was discharged, said the Archdeacon of Macclesfield, the Venerable Ian Bishop.
Leaving Goostrey for Swettenham
 The Vicar of St Luke's, Goostrey, and St Peter's, Swettenham, Ian's death stunned villagers in the twin communities. St Luke's was packed with family, close friends, parishoners and clergy for the service relayed to an overspill congregation gathered in the churchyard. For the committal at St Peter's church, Swettenham, Ian was transferred to a  carriage drawn by two black-plumed cobs to spend two minutes outside the church before the service.
 The formality of the 80-minute  funeral service conducted by the archdeacon and presided over by Dr Peter Forster, the Bishop of Chester, was also an occasion of celebration for the life of Ian.
 A knot of clergymen  led by Dr Forster processed to the church from Goostrey school in advance of the funeral service on a day blessed with sunshine.  And almost at the moment the service began a thrush, apparently hidden from view in the churchyard's 1,000-year-old yew tree, broke into song as if making its own tribute to a much loved vicar.
 Ian, who was 59, moved to Goostrey in March 2011, with his wife, Audrey and their daughter Louise from Mill Hill, London. Their two older children, Matthew and Christopher, continued to live in Mill Hill.
Ian is carried from St  Luke's
 Ian joined Barclay's Bank after leaving school and after a successful career spanning 35 years, he was a corporate director when he made the decision to become a full-time minister.  He was ordained priest in June 2002 at Hampstead Parish Church and was inducted as vicar in April 2011 at St Luke's, Goostrey, where his arrival was described as a "breath of fresh air..."
A section of the overspill congregation
The Rev Pat Jones,a friend and team vicar of Thatcham, spoke of Ian's life, his love of football, cricket, singing, the fact he was nicknamed "Goozie"  from primary school and sometime quirky aspects of his personality, such as being hooked on train spotting, and he was a devoted family man, with Audrey as his rock. "We all have fond memories of  Ian and can share in his humility, courage and faith". 
  Venerable Bishop said Ian served his communities beyond all expectations.
 "Time spent with him was time gained not lost," said the archdeacon.
Ian with Bishop Richard  Courtesy
 "He was genuinely a faithful man and even when struggling with his health, he would not give in. He never bemoaned his health issues. A week before he died he was planning his return to work." Canon Martin Poll, chaplain of St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, a close friend of Ian and his wife, and a former curate of John Keble Church, read the gospel during the service.
 Ian was at Goostrey Rose Festival where he chatted and joked with villagers and was at St Luke's for the parish communion service at the end of July. It was also in July that he travelled to John Keble Church for the patronal festival where he administered the chalice, and afterwards attended evensong officiated by the Bishop of London, the Rev and Rt Hon. Richard Chartres, who ordained Ian. 
*Double-click images to enlarge 

Thursday, 11 August 2016

 Villagers mourn  death of their parish priest.

The Rev Ian Godfrey, vicar of St Luke's Church, Goostrey and St Peter's Church,
Ian Godfrey
Swettenham, has died at Manchester Royal InfirmaryIan moved to Goostrey in March 2011 with his wife Audrey and their daughter Louise from Mill Hill, North West London. Their two older children Matthew and Christopher, both with established careers,continued to live in Mill Hill.  He was a non stipendiary minister serving John Keble Church, Edgware where he had been attending with his parents and brother since the 1960s before coming to the village.
St Luke's Church from the Bongs
After leaving school, Ian joined Barclays Bank and following a successful career spanning 35 years he was a corporate director when he made the decision to become a full time minister. He was ordained priest in June 2002 at Hampstead Parish Church and was inducted as vicar in April 2011 at St Luke's, Goostrey.
   His death on Sunday announced initially on the Love Goostrey website, stunned villagers who had chatted and joked with him at Goostrey Rose Festival only several weeks ago following an absence from the pulpit due to illness.
A vicarage tea party
  One of his last services was a special celebration of the Queen's 90th birthday attended by a packed congregation including the village's scouts and guides, cubs and beavers.
  Earlier this year, one of the highlights of his ministry was the visit of the Church of England's first woman Bishop, the Right Reverend Libby Lane, the Bishop of Stockport, to officiate at St Luke's annual Plough Service held at the Orchards Farm, Twemlow. 
  Parishioners have spoken of their sadness at the loss of Ian who arrived in the village to live at the Vicarage in Blackden Lane as a "breath of fresh air" as he took on the challenge of looking after the church and its flock in both parishes.
The Bishop of Stockport at Plough Sunday
  "Ian was an amazing man and quickly settled into his work in the parish," said a member of the congregation. "You could hardly keep up with him as he involved himself in church life and village activities. He was particularly keen on visiting people and dropping into the meetings of organisations involving all ages.
  "When he became ill he was still very determined to carry out his duties even though at times he insisted on doing them on crutches or from a wheelchair. 
"He was certainly one of the most courageous and lovely individuals one could wish to meet. He will be sadly missed by the parish both here and in Swettenham."
  Ian's funeral will be held at St Luke's Church on Friday, August 26 at 2pm followed by interment at St Peter's.

Saturday, 30 July 2016


Terry with his winning berry
Junior champ Joe Banks Williams
     A three-times reigning champion lost his crown at Goostrey Gooseberry Show to the lightest berry put on the scales for the top trophy since the mid-nineteen eighties. Grower Peter Goode, whose premier berry has been the heaviest in the past three years, lost the title to veteran Terry Price, winning the show for the ninth time. But Terry's berry, a Just Betty variety tipping the scales at 24 pennyweights 22 grains, was a mere tiddler compared to weights for the heaviest berry in previous shows of  more than 30 pennyweights.Terry, the show president, predicted that  weights would be down on other years because of the  combination of heat, rain and cold during the peak of the growing season. "It was the smallest premier berry I've ever had, and I  didn't really think it had a chance of winning the show," he
Shows from the past at the Crown
  "It has been the worst growing season for years with berries bursting all over the place."  Terry, who has several times won the Mid-Cheshire Association cup as the top grower,  had the satisfaction of winning prizes in almost every class and carried off six silver trophies to put on show at his home in Twemlow Green. Peter, raising his berries on an allotment  at Byley managed only eighth place in the challenge for the premier award with  a Montrose berry weighing 18 pennyweights 8  grains. He was expected to win a top prize again at this year's show at the Crown Inn, but Peter blamed his lack of success on a  late hard frost in May which ravaged his crop. The poor season was confirmed when Kelvin Archer was unable to raise a Montrose gooseberry for the Lower Withington show of more than 30 pennyweights 18 grains compared to his world record Millennium berry in the Guinness Book of Records of 41 pennyweights 11 grains.  Another long-time grower Nick Hassall was pipped into second place with his Montrose at 24 pennyweights 11 grains and third was Emma Williams, the show secretary, with a Lloyd George of 23 pennyweights 4 grains. 
  Emma also won a trophy with the only triplets in the show, a trio of Newton Wonders weighing 36 pennyweights 8  grains, and Griselda Garner from Blackden topped the scales with Just Betty twins at 30 pennyweights 16 grains.
 In the under sixteens class, Joe Banks Williams, aged seven, collected a silver cup for a Woodpecker berry of 16 pennyweights 5 grains.
*Double click images to enlarge

A light-hearted moment in serious business!

Sunday, 24 July 2016


A Chairman berry holds on
Kelvin Archer with the world's heaviest gooseberry
   A battle-of-the-bulge is being fought about these parts as rival gooseberry growers defend their crops against a massed invasion of sun, heat and rain threatening the growing fruit. The sudden burst of sunshine gave a bumper harvest a ripening spurt  some weeks too early for the annual gooseberry shows starting this week-end and continuing into next month in a string of villages.  But  growers fear there will be no new records to be set this year unless they can stem the attack from the elements and the added pest of swarms of wasps poised to do their worst among the bushes.  Growers here in Goostrey, where one of the biggest shows is being held this Saturday (July 30) at the Crown Inn, reported a major attack of mildew in June. Now having saved their berries from the ravages of the  disease many of the most promising juicy heavyweights are bursting without warning as a result of the mix of sunshine and showers over the past weeks. Terry Price, veteran champion grower and president of Goostrey Gooseberry Society, says he does not believe there will be many berries left that could tip the scales at over 30 pennyweights unless growers are very lucky.  "Berries are bursting like hell," he said. "What I have seen so far suggests to me if you have a premier berry of between 27 and 29 pennyweights it could be a show winner."   Gooseberry growers by nature, however, are a canny breed and really never like to divulge to rivals how their berries are progressing,
and only on show day when their wax-sealed boxes are opened for the weigh-in is the truth revealed. The shows may be a quaint village ritual from the past but  to enthusiasts it is serious business with big prize-money and silver trophies as the spoils to be won.  Russell Burns, patron of the Yellow Broom restaurant, Twemlow,and a Goostrey show sponsor, is reportedly nurturing a "real whopper" of a berry on his bushes but it will be touch and go if it survives for his Swettenham show a week on Saturday.  "It is a really nice berry and I reckon if  he is lucky and it doesn't burst it could win the Mid-Cheshire Association trophy for the heaviest this year," said Terry.
  The competition among growers to produce the heaviest gooseberry began in the 18th century and the oldest existing show is at
Egton Bridge in Yorkshire founded in 1800. They were once held all over the industrial north of England but, apart from the Egton 
Triplets waiting to be picked
show, only eight survive, all in Cheshire, at Goostrey, Holmes Chapel, Allostock, the Crown of Peover, Over Peover (The Dog), Lower Withington, Marton and Swettenham Club.  The Blackden Trust based at the home of author Alan Garner and his wife, Griselda, near Jodrell Bank, maintains the official gooseberry archive of the many-named varieties of trees.  Local grower Kelvin Archer, a gardener at Rode Hall, is the present holder of the title for the heaviest gooseberry. His Millenium-named berry tipped the scales in 2013 at 41 pennyweights 11 grains to earn him a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
  The Goostrey show at the Crown, like all others,  is open to the public when the sealed boxes are opened at 1 pm for weighing and the
open show for juniors under 16.

Monday, 18 July 2016


   He was named Ronald Edward Carbutt but to me and all of his friends and family he was known as plain Eddie. He was noted for his warmth and humour and for the flat cap that symbolised his country roots when it was worn by one of his grandchildren at  his funeral service today in Goostrey. Eddie was a person you instinctively liked, friendly, helpful and always with a welcome at his home at Blackden Firs where he cared for a large garden and land. The packed congregation at St Luke's Church was a celebration of his life led by Carol, his wife of fifty-one years, and a tribute to his many friendships in 79 years since his birth in Marton. And it was also fitting that Eddie's picture chosen for the service sheet was of one of his proud moments when he won another trophy for his legendary prowess as a competitive gooseberry grower. He was previously a member of Goostrey Gooseberry Society and still held the record for the heaviest berry at the annual show, a Woodpecker of 37 pennyweights and 14 grains grown in 1991. In more  recent years he continued to compete at the Swettenham show.  His varied working life included roles as a mole catcher, gardener, farm worker and running his own turf haulage business. Above all though he was one of the nicest of people you would wish to say was a friend. The service was followed by cremation at Vale Royal Crematorium.  
*Double-click image to enlarge

Wednesday, 22 June 2016


Margaret and Jonathan in the new store
  Like Mark Twain who famously quipped a report of his death was greatly exaggerated, our own Margaret Kettle is proving there is a lot of life still to live - even as one of Goostrey's oldest villagers a few months off her 94th birthday! When Margaret's "Aladdin's Cave"  appeared to close several weeks ago, it was feared the doughty shopkeeper had finally  locked up for good. But nothing of the sort as it reopened today (July 4) with Margaret still behind the counter in a refurbished shop. Now renamed Goostrey Village Store, complete with post office, groceries,  bread,  fresh meat and hardware, the wheel has turned full circle to the days when the community was little more than 500 souls and there were many more shops.  Its transformation is due to Jonathan Royle, of Plumley Village Stores, who took over Goostrey sub post office when it was threatened with closure, and has now invested his faith and resources in a return to shopping locally. And Margaret, born and bred in the community at Roadside Farm, Barnshaw, will remain very much a lively fixture - although  she can no longer boast she sells everything from a pin to an elephant - continuing a role that began with her late husband, George, in 1960.  "I am certainly not retiring and I will just disappear one of these days," says Margaret. "I have been modernised, and have been dragged shouting and screaming into the modern age." Those of a certain maturity in Goostrey will remember when the couple ran  not only the post office  but sorted the mail at 5.30 am behind the shop in Main Road and employed a team of posties. It was a real rural service and I doubt a letter was ever  delivered incorrectly. I then lived in Mill Lane and  was always aware when George  delivered the post - the whiff of the smoke from his ever present cigarette wafted up the stairs through the letter box!  In recent times,some 29 years after the post office moved elsewhere in the village, Margaret came to the rescue when it faced the axe and offered a corner of her  shop as a branch of Plumley post office. Now she is looking enthusiastically to her new role as arguably the oldest shop assistant in the country in premises built for £300 in the mid 19th century on land known as the Acreage and her home for more than 50 years. It has served the village as a bakery, a shippon for five cows, stabling for horses and an abattoir before Kettles emporium. Jonathan says the shop will be an addition to other businesses in the village and not in competition. Griselda Garner, wife of author Alan Garner, who lives at Blackden, was among villagers at the official launch." She said:"It is a fantastic addition to the village and I hope it will be well supported."
Margaret cuts the tape to launch the new village store
*Mark Twain, the American writer who died April 21, 1910, in Redding, Connecticut, was in London in 1895, when he was rumoured to be on his deathbed, provoking his famous response.
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Winston Churchill is claimed to be the architect of the European Union. But even the great wartime leader would not have foreseen his baby grow into such an overbearing middle-aged bedfellow in  28 nations that we, one of the club, are being asked today (Thursday) to remain or leave. I've hesitated to declare my hand. Now, having looked at the pros and cons, I fear the only alternative is that we must go, sadly Mr Cameron's interview on BBC Today on Wednesday morning being the deciding factor. I just cannot believe that the fine tuning of our relationship with the EU  he claims to have achieved will be rubber-stamped when the proposals come up for approval. And even if they were sanctioned we would still face the prospect of the European steamroller continuing to crush our opposition to any future regulation and legislation we disliked. I know many of the great, good and sometime worthy have declared they will be voting to stay. Let's face it, though, many  have vested interests, notable among them that champion of the consumer, Martin Lewis. He says on the balance of probability, it is more likely we'll have less money in our pockets if we vote to leave. Others, like Richard Branson, say leaving the EU would be very, very damaging to Great Britain. Well, all I can say, I have a lot of time for both, but am reminded that one made a mint from his money saving website, and the other is a billionaire magnet whose lifestyle on Necker Island in the Caribbean is far remote from the daily grind of the majority on our small island! Someone asked the other day: What has the EU done for you? I  really can't say - although I do know until recently it was illegal to be sold goods in pounds, only kilos were allowed, the plan to replace miles with kilometres on our roads was also defied, but, frustratingly, in some authorities over-zealous Europhiles continue to maintain kilometre footpath signs, and I am confused because I still think in inches and fahrenheit  not celsius These are all pretty petty matters. It is what lies ahead should cause our concern if the majority vote to stay at the table, and we fail to regain the right to plot our own destiny.