Newsletter – August 2020

Nina Colledge
Nina Colledge celebrated her 100th Birthday on Saturday, 18th July.

Dear Nina, we all hope you had a very happy and memorable day. We understand you were able to celebrate with your family and that the staff of Gledhow Care Home did everything they could to make it an enjoyable day; we are sure you will all have some very happy memories.


I’ll take your hand, not done that for a while now.
I’ll ask ‘You’ll come in for a cup of tea?’
Such simple words and yet they make you smile now,
And you come close till you are holding me.
Thank God! We’re sane again, life can go on now,
The lockdown is no more; the air is free.
Our friends can come to stay, the children too now;
And you can sit here on my couch with me.
This sickness which has held the world to ransom
Could never have been cured by strength alone,
But doing all you can for helping others
Has proved the best elixir ever known.

Doreen Sowden 2020


‘“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25.34-40)

Dear friends,

This week, about three weeks late, I listened to the Farewell Service for Rev’d Kevin Watson on Facebook, having been away when it took place. I was pleased to see that it had been recorded. If you’d like to listen to it and can go online, go to the Synod website, click on the tiny Facebook icon on the top right-hand corner of the page, then scroll down on Facebook to find it.

Kevin, a former attendee of our Church as a student in Leeds, has been our Yorkshire Synod Moderator for 12 years. He brought to the role a passion for Jesus, for sharing Him with others and for the work of the Holy Spirit in our Churches and communities. You may recall he was due to lead worship at Church on Palm Sunday, and as we were then already in lockdown, provided a sermon for us on the podcast.

His leaving service was about celebrating his Ministry in Yorkshire, and passing on the baton. The service had been due to be part of Synod meeting in March which was cancelled because of the virus. He had planned then to talk of the future, as at the Synod last October he based it on the past and present.

To quote from his sermon: “We’re called by God to see what He has done in the past, to look at what God is doing in the world around us, and thereby catch a glimpse of the prophetic vision of God’s Kingdom in the future.” Kevin went on to say that there had been research on how the UK Church has been transforming, but with the last few months, this has been brought into sharp focus: “. . . every prophetic picture that they have painted has suddenly become more real, more imminent, more urgent because of the pandemic. If we can’t see the vision of God’s Kingdom before us, or we’re prepared to ignore it, there is no future. I invite you to grasp the hand of our Lord Jesus, and the future is bright . . . the future is Christ.”

With thoughts of the pandemic, about what has been achieved by Churches during lockdown, and what we can be on emerging, Kevin continued to share his thoughts. I think it’s worth quoting:
“I know we don’t want to be the generation who puts the lights out and locks the Church door, but when I say this is not about our buildings or our way of being Church, what I mean is, they can be changed, they can be closed, they can be moved, they can be reformed. It is the Kingdom of God that we seek and serve, and that will prevail, and surely we’ve learned that in the pandemic, haven’t we?” Something for us to think about

Kevin continued: “Now that we have come out of lockdown, we will be challenged by the Holy Spirit. Do we seek back our life as it was; do we seek back to the comfortable safe ways of being Church, satisfying how we want Church to be? Or will be continue to be open and generous for the poor and the needy, the vulnerable and the marginalised. Yes, we have discovered that we don’t have to have money or buildings to be the people of God. So when now God gives us back God’s money and God’s buildings, let us rejoice in using them to reach the people who need the good news of Jesus, all the people who’ve had their lives, their livelihoods threatened, all those who’ve lost loved ones and those who’ve lost hope, the people who have been broken, battered, bruised by this pandemic, or by the way society treats them. Let us be the people who are open hearted, with open doors to listen and to care, and to show everyone that God has not given up on our world, but God’s love is victorious.”

What then have we learned in this time for our Church? What might worship look like when we come back? What might we lay down and what might we take up?

Further on in the magazine, we’ll be reminded of the idea one of our members came up with to reach out to those affected by the pandemic, which has been circulated on a document. I pray we will be a Church reaching out with Christ’s love to a hurting world.
Every blessing,

Clare <><


Coffee & Conversation
I apologise that we didn’t hold the online Coffee & Conversation on 14th July. I failed to change the entry in my diary. I know of one person who tried to log in, and apologise to anyone else who may have done so.

As we don’t usually hold meetings in August, our next Coffee & Conversation online will be on 15th September. It is in my diary, and I will send out a link nearer the time.


A reminder that most weeks you will be able to join in Sunday Worship on a podcast from our church on our website: with a Service available from just before 10am on the URC website on other weeks. A big thank you to Ian Lawrie for all he does to compile the Services and, now that he has been able to visit the church again, the wonderful addition of an organ accompaniment to the words of the hymns as well as pictures of the interior of the church. Thank you for all the thought you put into the new format which really complemented the worship.

Coffee & Chat idea – volunteers needed
This is not to be confused with Coffee & Conversation, our monthly discussions around a Bible passage. Rather it is to provide a space for people to come and talk if they want to, to share their experiences of lockdown, or just sit and relax in a friendly safe space.

Aleck has sent a document around to all those on email, with more information on what it would be about.

Our next step is to find volunteers. So, if after reading the document and praying about it you think this may be something you could help with, please let me know by email or phone – I’m back from leave from 10th August. We will then arrange to attend the introductory session with Renew Wellbeing, and ask the Holy Spirit to lead us to know how to proceed from there, whether with the charity or on our own.



Sadly, the funeral of Nancy Houlgate took place when restrictions meant it was not possible to hold a Service of Thanksgiving for her long life in our church. Clare was able to officiate at the small Funeral Service allowed at Lawnswood and the following is the Eulogy she delivered.

Nancy was born in Leeds on 15th April 1922, and had younger siblings, Joe and Irene. She loved her cats, Bubbles and Peter, a Blue Persian. The family enjoyed holidays in Skegness where her parents had a chalet at the Bathing Pool. She was very intelligent, and attended Leeds Girls’ High School where she enjoyed swimming, something she continued to enjoy throughout her life, as long as she was able.

Nancy attended Cavendish Road Presbyterian Church, which then moved to Headingley to become St Columba’s, eventually becoming Headingley St Columba URC. Her father was instrumental in getting the organ moved to the current site, which is still treasured and normally played weekly.

Nancy was called up during the war as an administrator for the Army in Leeds. She then worked for the Midland Bank, where she became secretary to the district staff superintendent. She was very organised and ran the office team with precision, ensuring that schedules were adhered to. She had a meticulous memory, and would apparently keep one of the wives in check by reminding her of which dress she had worn at a previous function, or which meal she had cooked for visiting dignitaries, so as to avoid repetition!

During her time there, she met Jim Jones and they married in 1960. Although they didn’t have children, Nancy loved having them around her, nieces, godchildren and friends, which she lovingly called her “Kindergarten”. When they visited her and Jim, she had always thoughtfully prepared an itinerary of suitable activities and jobs to keep them all busy: crafts, cooking, cycling to the shops, ball games, skipping and hopscotch on the drive at Becketts Park, as well as making nets to go fishing for tiddlers, and boating at Roundhay Park.

Hilary remembers when Aunty Nancy would collect her from junior school and take her to her father’s office to await him finishing work. Aunty Nancy would give her jobs to do, like sticking stamps on the mail and stuffing envelopes. Felicity and David remember that she thoughtfully always ensured that when visited, she had a pork pie and some Wensleydale cheese waiting in the fridge.

Nancy had some very traditional ways, such as always keeping the linen starched, including serviettes and sheets. When Felicity and Frances were young, they had to sit on each end of the serviettes to keep them on their laps. Nancy kept 2 pairs of sheets un-starched for when they stayed, as they were too stiff to sleep on. She also ran a very organised diary. On one visit, the guests arrived an hour early and were kindly asked to go for a walk down to the Headingley shopping parade as she wasn’t ready to receive them! She was the sort of person who knew what she wanted, when, and how to make it happen, all in a very good way!

Nancy was keen on sport, not just swimming, and in the late 1970s played competitive hockey for a local team. After that, she and Uncle Jim were very keen golfers and active members of Pannal Golf Club. For holidays, they regularly visited Spain, which Nancy thought of as a second home, and her friends there as part of her extended family. She spoke Spanish fluently.

I’ve been given some lovely words from Isobel Dewhirst, a long-time neighbour from Beckett’s Drive and Church friend. She recounted the tale of how her she knew Nancy in passing as a neighbour, and someone she nodded a greeting to at Church. But when Isobel’s husband passed away and she had to go back to work fairly quickly to support the family, she said Nancy left things like casseroles and scones on her door-step, incognito, although Isobel eventually found out who the kindness was coming from. Nancy also used to invite her and the family for meals. She said Nancy was always turned out smartly, with matching coat and hat walking past the house.

Nancy was a very, very caring person, as well as being very precise and practical. One time, when she heard the Hood’s had run out of jam jars for their marmalade, she sent round a taxi full of them. Isobel described her as a beacon of love, fun and a joy to be with, she always seemed very happy, and someone Isobel was pleased to know and be with.

Through the Midland Bank, Nancy and Jim were close friends with William and Shirley Houlgate. Jim passed away in December 1985, after 26 years of marriage. I was told just yesterday that Nancy and Jim donated the double piano stool we have in Church.

Shirley Houlgate passed away around that same time as Jim, and in 1990 Nancy married William Houlgate and moved to Harrogate, where she lived during their 20 years of marriage until sadly, William passed away. During that time, Nancy became an enthusiastic member of the Leeds Caledonian Society from around 1995, and was very proud to be made a life member. On the other hand, she was very patriotic for Yorkshire, with a white rose on the door of the Harrogate house.

On one visit to Harrogate, Frances and Paul took Auntie Nancy to the Queen’s Head at Kettlesing. Their girls were teenagers at the time, and wore their hair in a ‘messy bun’. Sarah had put her hair up just so, and a lovely comment that Auntie Nancy made was, “Do you need a hairbrush?” On another occasion Sarah wore a pair of ripped jeans, which again was the current fashion. Auntie Nancy kept looking at the hole at her knee and around the room, then very concerned said, “I’m not sure that I have anything that I can give you to patch that hole.”

In August 2015 Auntie Nancy moved to Hampden House to be cared for, and had been there ever since, even though she longed to be home. In April 2020, she celebrated her 98th birthday and was in good spirits. After a brief illness, she passed away peacefully on the morning of Sat 30th May.

It was at Hampden House that I met her, shared news of Church, and celebrated Holy Communion. She came across to me as a very bright person, interested in all the news. The Home were surprised when she had no Church contact on her form, but I was asked to visit when she was ill. On one previous visit I recall asking Nancy if she’d like another Minister to visit more regularly, from Harrogate, but her reply was, “Oh no, St Columba’s is my Church.”

It is lovely to know that Nancy left everyone with such lovely and varied memories. She will be sadly missed, but she leaves a legacy of all the wonderful people whose lives she touched and who were richer for knowing her. May she rest in peace.




Our congratulations to Jane Bower on winning the ‘Divine Chocolate’ poetry competition. Luckily her dad, Len, insisted that she let us know of her success so we have the opportunity to read it, too.

‘Last night I received an email saying:

“I’m getting in touch to let you know that our guest judge Onjali Raúf chose your poem as the winner of the adult category of the Divine Chocolate & Christian Aid Poetry Competition 2020.”

I gather that Onjali, an award-winning children’s author, will be reading my poem online, and that I am to be sent a certificate, book tokens and quite a bit of chocolate. My poem is attached. I’m not sure why I wanted to enter it so much, but I found the title ‘Where does the Chocolate Story Begin?’ rather different and inspiring – plus it was lock down and I welcomed a creative project . . .

Anyway, I have done as Dad told me!’

Where does the chocolate story begin?

Deep in the Aztec past, long years ago,
Deep in the warmth of southern Mexico,
It was believed the god, Quetzalcoatl,
Gifted seeds of magic, xocolatl,
Gifted cacao seeds that were
Brown gold.

Precious were they, used as coinage there,
And as tomb offerings, their value rare.
A bitter drink they made, for strength and health,
A beverage prized, and symbolising wealth,
A currency that might be called
Brown gold.

The centuries rolled, and cacao’s mystic thrall
Spread farther, wider, now desired by all,
And to West Africa it made its way,
To Ghana’s rainforests, and São Tomé,
Whose fertile soil resembled rich
Brown gold.

Ensuring the well-off could have their treat
The poor it was who toiled in tropic heat –
Hands felling pods with cutlasses held high,
Hands spreading pale fermenting beans to dry –
Skilled, expert hands the colour of
Brown gold.

And then there came the justice of Fairtrade,
The practical support of Christian Aid,
Small family farms and wages that are fair
Forests protected so that all can share
And work together to produce
Brown gold.

What is it, this brown gold, this product fine?
Chocolate, pure chocolate, Divine!
Its quality and flavour best by far,
Its workers treated justly, bean to bar.
Be proud to tell the story of
Divine, and taste the glory of
Brown gold!

Jane Bower