• A bit from me...
  • The Vicar of Holy Island
  • Holy Island C-of-E first school
  • Crossman Hall
  • Hunters Moon
  • Curlews fly in but for how much longer?
  • Lindisfarne Castle
  • Natural England - Monthly Update
  • Northumberland Coast AONB - Bamburgh
  • News from Ford & Etal
  • From the Community of Aidan and Hilda
  • St Mary's notices
Bishop Christine of Newcastle presents Canon Dr Sarah Hills
 the new 'Vicar of Holy Island'
Picture: Mark Fleeson
A BIT FROM ME Geoff Porter

Dear Reader,

After our winter break, a very happy New Year and welcome to the first issue of our 2019 newsletter.

We start with wonderful news: The Rev'd Canon Dr Sarah Hills is now safely installed as 'Vicar of the Parish of St Mary the Virgin, Holy Island!! And thank you to for the above picture.

Please take care if you are plannning to visit the Island at the moment. From Beal Farm down to the Causeway parts of the narrow lane have deep ruts at edges and despite a little work, parts of the Causeway tarmac can be littered with packed-and-rutted sand. It is a threat to drivers in good weather. Inclemant weather can render it treacherous... But the journey is still worth it and increasing numbers are coming to visit.

Island Website: 2019 Tide Table (crossing times): This is now operational although we await opening time notification.

St Mary's Website: we await revisions to the contact details as Sarah begins to take over control. 

Thank you to those who sent messages of goodwill last month, including:

From Jim K: Thank you for your updated Sitezine. Hope your new vicar settles in with you all. Can I wish yourself and all of the Islanders A Very Merry Christmas and A Happy Healthy New Year.

From Lincoln: Good Evening Geoff. As the winter and the festive period gets ever closer, the days dictate we spend more time indoors I have read this Months News with interest as I do every month, and would so wish to be with you over the  Next few weeks, so to this end I wish you all on the Island a very good Christmas and New Year and wish You are treated well by the Weather Gods and I look forward to you news in February. Thank you so much for the news in this year. Kind Regards John J. Lincoln.

From Vilvoorde (Belgium): Dear Geoff, Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2019 in peace and good health, for you, your family and the whole community of Holy Island! From Karel & Lieve

Thank you to all our regular writers for your consistently hard work throughout the year in helping readers 'Stay in Touch' with us. Unfortunately, we have no messages from St Mary's or the Cuthbert Centre this month. In the future, we look forward to including articles from our new vicar as she settles in. But I continue to thank our readers as without you we have no reason to write and extol our love of this special place.

We hope you enjoy our newsletter and look forward to getting in touch again in March.

Our thoughts are with those states of the USA that are experiencing such record low temperatures.

Geoff Porter
Editor (SitEzine) 

Rev. Canon Dr. Sarah Hills

Rev. Canon Dr. Sarah Hills

The service of 'Collation and Induction' took place at 2pm on Sunday 27th January 2019 (as I write yesterday). Sarah was presented by our 'Area Dean' (Rev'd Dr R Kelsey) and members of the PCC for 'Collation' by the Bishop (Rt Rev'd Christine Hardman Bishop of Newcastle). 'Induction and Installation' was then carried out by Peter Robinson, Archdeacon of Lindisfarne and the Area Dean with the 'presentation of the keys' by the church wardens at the main door. Sarah signed her acceptance of pastoral charge by ringing the church bell and formally hand-led by the Archdeacon and placed in the 'Vicar's Stall'.

Welcomers included: Churchwardens Maureen Bushnell and Simon Bevan (on behalf of HI PCC), Rev'd Ruth Poolman  (for Cuthbert's URC Centre and St Aidan's RC), Rick Wells (for Holy Island Trust), Colin Tigo (for HI Coastguard), Rebecca Simpson (HI and Lowick CofE First Schools) and Heather Stiansen (HI CofE school), Robert Coombes (for HI Parish Council), Anne-Marie Trevelyan (our local MP) - Ed: my sincere apologies for all those names I did not hear...

St Mary's was well-filled with many of Sarah's friends coming to join us. The music-filled service was accompanied by Alison on organ and piano - including the hymns: 'Angel voices ever singing', Tell out my soul', 'Be thou my vision', 'Be still for the presence of the Lord' and 'I, the Lord of sea and sky'. A generous invitation was extended to visit for refreshment in new village hall afterwards. Well done to caterers!

We are grateful to members of the PCC (particularly Churchwardens Maureen, Simon and Ordinand Sam) who worked so hard to keep St Mary's 'up-and-running' throughout the Interregnum. Thank you so much to Archdeacon Peter for his guidance to the PCC and practical support to the Parish. We are so grateful to the Locum-Priests who helped. It is beyond the scope of these pages to individually thank all who 'stood up to be counted' during our time of need. Whoever you are and in whatever way you helped the PCC and St Mary's - thank you.

Welcome to Sarah, Richard, sons, Matt and Jack, and labrador, Roxy to Holy Island!


Here at Holy Island Church of England First School, the new year has certainly got off to an exciting start! Nature walks, bird watching and wildlife cameras are just a small part of our first few weeks.

First though, let's look back at the last two weeks of the term before Christmas. Amidst the usual hyper-excitement of anticipation for the 'main event', we welcomed Katherine and Cerys from Natural England in to school. The children enjoyed learning about the light bellied Brent Geese and their annual migration to Lindisfarne. And of course we performed our magnificent production 'Born in a Barn' at Lowick Village Hall. Our children gave tremendous performances and we were very impressed by their acting, singing and dancing.

We were joined by Sam Quilty here on Holy Island for a festive afternoon of Christingle making. The children took a great interest in the assembly of the Christingle and were especially keen to sample the fruits and sweets they were adding to it! Thank you Sam. We ended our last week with a very special visit to St Mary's where Sam showed the children around the church and the children were captivated by the beautiful nativity figures on display. We made some doves with messages of peace and the children were excited to be invited to hang them on the Christmas tree in church.

January began with the introduction of field notebooks for all of our children. Being 'nature detectives' is a theme we will be weaving into our learning throughout the year. Our nature walk in Lowick Village set the scene for a comparison of habitats - we will be looking at the lowland and coastal habitats around school in Lowick and on Holy Island. We welcomed the children from Lowick to the island last week. This was a very special visit because for the first time, the children were 'cut off' from the mainland. We took the opportunity to sketch our view of the causeway and mainland in our field notebooks from the beach near Chare Ends. We were joined by Katherine from Natural England and as a follow up to our workshop last term, we used binoculars and a telescope to look at the light bellied Brent Geese. Thank you Katherine. Undeterred by the frosty weather, the children were able to identify a number of other birds and are building up a keen interest and knowledge in what they see. 

Here at school we are part of an environmental project linking us with other schools and the Great North Museum in Newcastle. The 'Dippy Schools' project is designed to encourage awareness and respect of our natural world. A diplodocus 'skeleton' will be arriving in the museum soon and the idea is that the children understand the importance of protecting the environment. An exciting aspect of this is Durham University's Mammal Web research project where schools are offered a wild life camera to spot any mammals around our schools. This citizen science approach involves the children in the investigation as they record and upload any images captured to the website. This means their work is part of a real research project. We mentioned this to Katherine and she showed us a super place to site the camera down by The Lough. We are looking forward to seeing the images and will let you know what we see!

Our nature project also led to a visit from artist Louise Underwood who used the children's ideas, messages and images to create a huge textile banner, painted by the children, to be hung at the museum when Dippy the diplodocus arrives. I know the children will be very proud to see their work on display when they visit the museum later this year.

We've begun to plant some seeds in readiness for the warmer weather - our sweet peas are beginning to germinate and we have some vegetables ready to sow indoors for now. We have a lot of work to do in the garden - it's a huge opportunity for learning which we want to use regularly. We have been delighted to see our snowdrops peeping their bonny heads up through the grass on the school field and our crocuses and daffodils are on their way up!

I'm sure you'll agree we've been very busy and that the activities of the last few weeks have given us an excellent start to the year.

Heather Stiansen
Holy Island Church of England First School


I hope your all enjoyed the Christmas you wished for. I was knee deep in Family from well before the holidays being entertained by daughter No.2 and her family in Scotland. Then over the Christmas I joined daughter No.2 in London. At our main meal on the 25th there were 9 around the table. But it was also good to nap in a cozy chair.

Reflecting during the quiet periods I remembered joyous times past spent with friends relishing a drink or two and enjoying a good old gossip about times gone by. One old Pal always began the conversation after Christmas with; 'aye well the days is gettin longa now', as we looked toward to the daylight opening out.

First job in 2019 on behalf of the Trustees is; To thank Billy Shell for keeping the Hall grounds trimmed and tidy and to Jane Elliott, who kept our new Hall sparklingly clean. Well done Guys.

2018 was a fair business year and we generated sufficient funds to cover our outgoings and our predictions for 2019 look well and we should meet our financial forecast. The Trustees will soon complete the important review of fees for 2019 and set new hire tariffs for 2019.

December saw the continuation of the Yoga Class with one or two considering membership. Two local Committees, The Parochial Church Council and the Parish Council met in the Hall (on separate occasions).

As December began I was knee deep in an age old problem and yes, even after very careful storage, the Christmas Lights, when unpacked and readied for stringing around the hall and dressing the Trees.  Were, as the Bosun would say, 'in a buggers muddle', but worth the struggle. They looked grand.

The children's Christmas party was a great success. Well done to the Mum Organisers and Mrs Johnson who donated a Christmas Tree for the event held in the main hall.

The last function of 2018, was a National Trust project that involved a gathering locals to discuss a closer neighbour to neighbour relationship now the Castle was once again fully open and in full swing.

The Trustees reviewed energy providers and re-signed with 'Squeaky Clean' as our energy supplier for 2019.

The big event of January saw the hall setting out the Egyptian cotton table cloths, polishing the silver and carefully washing the bone china (well we can dream can't we) in readiness for the Parish Tea Party to welcome our new incumbent Rev Canon Dr Sarah Hills and Family. See Dec/Jan Newsletter for pocket biography. The event was very well attended with the 'full house' sign going up.

Just before Christmas a significant breeze of wind lifted some flashing at the SW corner of the hall roof. Our contractor was soon on scene and sorted the problem. There was also a difficulty with the hot water & heating system. This was resolved by our engineer and the system is again working well.

Last year, some of you may recall I requested that those remembered the late Melvin Walker to check their photo albums for pictures. We still need more to complete the collage that will hang in Melvin's Memorial Room. Any pictures provided will be copied and returned.

Thank you for looking.

David O'

Wildfowling on Holy Island

Is it a getting old thing or just yearning to be out and about at all hours enjoying the challenge. Or is it just remembering yesterday...

The huge inter-tidal area between the Island and mainland provides a valuable natural commercially viable nursery for fish and shellfish, as well as, a spectacular often changing seascape. It's also a harbours precious source food for wildfowl and waders on migration and those that over-winter in the area far from the inhospitable north and east.

This segment of the North Northumberland coast could be likened to a motorway service area where you stop off, refuel and move on. Here the intertidal area is jam packed with a selection of invertebrate life that waders and some duck enjoy. The marine grass zostera is the preferred feed for Wigeon and the non-quarry Pale Bellied Brent Goose. It's that predictability of a regular food source and a relatively quiet area that attracts the wildfowl, waders and the Hunter to the shore.  The shooter more commonly known as a Wildfowler, pits his skill against the weather, the terrain and sharp eyed quarry like fast flying Wigeon. The Fowler usually operates at dawn; dusk; under the moon and when the weather is rough and the birds are low flying, along the tides edge.

The October Moon, often call a 'Hunters Moon' can give the shooter the chance of a shot or two at night. Why, because the Hunters Moon often helps the Wildfowler's night vision. Most birds and ground game will have summered well and built up fat reserves to help see them through the winter or migration. Those that have crossed the North Sea can quickly restore their energy levels feeding day and night as the tide permits prior to moving on. Birds in good condition are a valuable asset for the table and deep freeze and yes not so long ago those living in coastal communities relied on wildfowl to put food on the table and a bit a cash in the pocket of those whose boats were too small for winter seas. The Harvest Moon was the first night time opportunity for the fisherman/wildfowler to bag a duck or two.

At night they would walk out from the Snook through the Pilgrims way to the Outer Swad where some had boxes sunk into the mud. They would delve into the box for a baler, empty out the water in the box or old bath dropped a bag or bottle of straw into it for a dryish seat. Stack their gear safely and having looked at the conditions and sight, set their decoys or if Fowler had no decoys he would pull together a half a score of mud models to resemble feeding birds and the settle back in his box until the ducks flew. Those Fowlers without a box would lie in the bottom of a drain or gully and hope to attract a Wigeon over their decoys by whistling in the birds. When he'd had a shot two or three or the tide started to flood it was time to head back to the shore.

On a good night (for the Fowler) 6 or 7 Wigeon maybe bagged. After a night on the Slakes the shooter usually ended up in the Iron Rails and it was always said that far more ducks were shot in the Rails than were ever shot on the Slakes!!!

As well as 'wildfowling' on the Island other favoured births were the South Corner at Elwick, Teal Hole & the Realy Law at Fenham Le Moor, The Mill Burn End at Fenham and the Dolphin Stones & North Point at Beal. On a good night for Fowling, it was not unusual to note 60 or more shooters spread across the hunting area. All of whom were monitored, had to show their Permit to Shoot and their bag. No wrong doers were tolerated! Although in the early days of controlled shooting it was a bit like Doge City in the wild-west, but after a season or two, firm control was established, law-abiding prevailed. Those who broke the law often ended up in the Court.

Remember a successful Wildfowler had good field craft and an understanding of the shore, but there were those less aware of the hazards involved and came to grief when moving over quicksand, through soft mud and deep drains with an incoming tide, occasionally placed themselves at risk and required help to get back to the shore. Those who got themselves into difficulty were usually from the towns and cities and having been helped back to the shore decided the wildfowling was not for them.

David O'


Anyone walking around the island in recent weeks probably can't fail to have noticed the big parties of Curlews feeding in the fields.

Most of them arrive as the tide rises and pushes them off the mud and sands and flights of calling birds are an everyday sight throughout winter.

With their long curved bills and mottled brown plumage, they're probably so familiar that we don't pay a great deal of attention. They seem so numerous that we often assume that all is well with the Curlew.

The reality is that our largest waders are in real trouble and we are probably lulled into a false sense of security because many of those we see are winter visitors from Scandinavia and other parts of Europe

Internationally, curlews breed across a broad band of Europe and Russia eastwards to Lake Baikal and numbers right across this range have been falling.  In Britain, we still have around 68,000 breeding pairs, quarter of the world population, but with numbers more than doubling during winter because of immigration.

England has been least affected by the decline but the number of breeding pairs has still dropped by around 30% since the mid 1990s, even in prime areas including the Pennines. Scottish numbers are down by 50% while in Wales and Ireland the losses have been catastrophic with reductions of over 80%.

The result is that the curlew in now officially on the conservation Red List as a vulnerable species.  That  seems shocking to those of us whose memories of the spring on the moors go back a few decades when singing Curlews seemed to be everywhere.

The wonderfully liquid bubbling call as birds indulge in aerial displays is one of the most evocative and familiar sounds of spring across our uplands. Males rise high with long whistling calls which come to a trilling crescendo as they glide back down to drop in the heather and rough tussock grass. 

It's a song that has long inspired poets and writers.  Robbie Burns described it as something to 'elevate the soul.' The Northumbrian politician Viscount Grey of Fallodon, best remembered for his comments as Foreign Secretary in 1914 about lights going out all over Europe, was a keen naturalist with a finely tuned ear for birdsong.

He wrote wrote in 1927 in his classic work The Charm of Birds: 'To listen to Curlews on a bright, clear April day, with the fullness of spring still in anticipation, is one of the best experiences that a lover of birds can have. On a still day one can almost feel the air vibrating with the blessed sound.'

The song of the Curlew is still familiar across the rough grasslands of our hills. But the stark figures are there for all to see. Now much research is underway by organisations including the RSPB and the British Trust for Ornithology, to try to work out what has gone wrong. 

The basic problem seems to be that the survival rates of young Curlews are now too low to sustain the population.  Curlews were once widespread right across the country but the intensification of farming, particularly the improvement of grasslands and the draining of boggy areas, has largely driven them out of the lowlands.

A feeding Curlew: a familiar sight now but the future is uncertain. 
Photo: Mike S Hodgson

Today they are a bird of the uplands where huge areas of marginal grasslands still exists. The best available data for Northumberland comes from survey work which has been carried out annually since 2004 by an old friend of mine, Bryan Galloway, across some prime Curlew breeding habitat on the Otterburn Training Area.

This annual work covers 26 one-kilometre Ordnance Survey squares, comprising one tenth of training area.  The numbers of pairs across his study area averaged 46 between 2005 and 2007. Then it fell sharply for no apparent reason in line with the national picture. However, since 2010 it has remained at between 24 and 27 pairs, indicating that things are now fairly stable and that the decline may, hopefully, have bottomed out.

On the national and international scene, various theories have been advanced for the decline of the Curlew.

Undoubtedly, our lowlands are now generally unsuitable for large ground-nesting birds which need deep ground cover to conceal eggs and young and wet areas to provide food.

But numbers have also fallen in the uplands. The spread of commercial forestry has been suggested as one cause. It has swallowed up large areas of former grassland. It has also provided new prime habitat for predators, including Fox, Badger, Stoat, Carrion Crow, Buzzard and Goshawk, all of them hunting across open adjoining land. Significantly, Curlews seem to shun areas with a mile or two of forest edges.

Inevitably, climate change has been mentioned with hotter summers drying out wet areas so essential to young Curlews for feeding.  But as the greatest declines have been in Wales and Ireland, the wettest parts of the British Isles, that seems unlikely.

Another factor could be increased human disturbance. These days nearly all shepherds, gamekeepers and others use quad bikes for their rounds and get daily into areas where disturbance was probably minimal in the past.  Nesting Curlews are shy and flushed adults tend to fly long distances, perhaps leaving eggs and young more vulnerable.

These are just a few of the theories which have been put forward to try and explain the decline. It seems seems likely that a range of factors, rather than a single problem, is responsible. We'll just have to wait and see what the scientists come up with.

Meanwhile, at least in our area we can go on enjoying those wonderful iconic songs of the uplands in spring and the familiar sight of parties feeding across the winter fields.


Happy New Year to you all.

It is all-go up at the Castle getting ready for opening on 13 February. We are very busy pulling together an exhibition which will run until the end of March, at which point a larger installation will arrive and remain for the rest of the season. Both of these will give the visitor a new experience of Lindisfarne, telling the story of the Castle from the earliest times up until the recent restoration works. As part of this we will be displaying items relating to the recent project, along with other details I have come across over my decade-or-so of rummaging in archives and dusty cupboards.

Revisiting some of these archival references has inevitably caught my attention again, and I have begun to explore threads and dead ends which I had abandoned long ago. For example there were a couple of massive renovations of Hoy Island Castle which we know very little about, one sometime between 1742 and 1813, and another in the mid-19th century, probably around 1860. The first would have been carried out by the Board of Ordnance and saw the present Ship Room and Dining Room rebuilt to include the vaulted ceilings they now boast. The idea was to mount guns above as the Castle never previously had weapons pointing north. This was probably in response to the Jacobite rebellion of 1745-46... but that is pretty much all we know about that. The second job was arguably just as significant; when the Castle was re-occupied by the Royal Artillery in 1858 the order was given by the War Office to rearm the building with three huge 64-pounder guns on completely new emplacements (now visible at the Castle). During the recent project, we gained an insight into the scale of this work when it appeared that huge sections of the Castle were demolished and then rebuilt in concrete. Again though, apart from a military plan dated 1883 showing the new layout, no other records have been found.

A couple of new leads have come up though; Office of Works documents in the National Archives have recently come to my attention which may contain what I'm after, and a researcher at the Royal Engineers Archive in Gillingham may be able to help us too. Given the distances involved much of this work has to be done remotely but perhaps I should go and visit my sister-in-law in London more often, and perhaps suggest a day out at Kew with the family...!

Thank you to all of you who came along to the Christmas 'Do' we had in the Crossman Hall, it was a lovely day and plenty of stories were shared back-and-forth. We are hoping to use some of the recordings made on the day in the exhibitions this year so look out for that. If you are an Island resident you can come up to the Castle and collect your Residents Pass from the Admissions Hut and pop in for a look at the exhibition.

Best wishes,

Nick Lewis
Lindisfarne Castle
01289 389903


A new year on the Reserve - and after a busy start, it's hard to imagine that it's only a few weeks since Christmas. Daily stock checks continued over the festive season, offering an opportunity for a moment's windblown tranquillity by the shore, or a Boxing Day game of hide and seek with the cattle amongst the dunes. It is a matter of constant astonishment how thirty well-built cows in calf can conceal themselves so effectively - we suspect a spark of mischief in these gentle-eyed, placid ladies. Short-eared owls watched our progress, yellow-eyed, then flew off in search of unsuspecting voles.

We have 'farewelled' the sheep and cows who grazed the dunes and slacks since September and October respectively. At Chare Ends we unloaded the trailer of its heavy metal hurdles, created a corral while others parted to walk the cows through the dunes. They appeared in a slow procession - if we must - then parted in three rounds of ten, leaving island life for the warmth of winter sheds.

The sheep left us too, from the Snook where they have grazed the dune slacks intensively since September. Sweet collie Meg showed her prowess, sent to the left and right of the flock by the calls of 'come bye' and 'away'. A head-count followed, along with the reflection that anyone who has suggested counting sheep to get to sleep has never tried it! Meg, the hard work done, pleaded for tummy rubs.

It is strange without the stock - it has become habit to scan the dunes for the cows, chestnut and black. Their grazing efforts have paid off though, and the flora of the dunes and slacks will benefit. We have brought in the fences and the signs - the former will be used in not too many months for shorebird season, the latter stored for the autumn. Twite passed by in dipping flocks overhead, noisy in flight.


On the coast between Sheldrake Pool and Emmanuel Head, we spent two hours last Friday picking litter - too much found for us to carry, so lobster pots were lifted above the tide line for later collection, while we picked up the glut of smaller litter that had been washed up. In one 200 metre stretch we found 67 plastic bottles at the high tide mark. Returning to the office, two of the Reserve's volunteers appeared in the yard to alert us that they had found and moved a lobster pot on their afternoon's walk - duly collected, we added it to the pile in the yard. Ghost fishing and single-use plastic pollution have an incredible impact upon our wildlife - last year two seals were found tangled in rope on the Reserve, while autopsies of birds in Northumberland have all too often shown plastics in their insides. We continue to work to clean our beaches, helped by Reserve and Coast Care volunteers, and a programme of beach cleans will be forthcoming.

For now, we wish you a good month - wrap up warmly, and please take care not to disturb the birds.

Ceris Aston
Lindisfarne & Newham NNRs
Natural England
Beal Station



'Accessing Aidan', a remarkable partnership project to develop the crypt of St. Aidan's Church, Bamburgh into a beautiful interpretation space, has been awarded a grant of 355,600 by the National Lottery.

Made possible by National Lottery players, the grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) will enable the Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership, St. Aidan's Parochial Church Council, Bamburgh Heritage Trust and Northumberland County Council to work together to reopen the beautiful 12th century crypt to the public once again.

The ambition is to use projection and interactive technology to tell the fabulous story of Bamburgh. The central message of the interpretation will concentrate on the Bowl Hole Ossuary, created in 2016 in the small second crypt. This is the last resting place of the people who lived in Bamburgh 1,400 years ago, when it was the cosmopolitan centre of Anglo-Saxon Northumbria. Just like today, people lived and worked in the spectacular coastal village or travelled from far and wide to visit and enjoy its treasures.

In addition access to the crypt will be improved, there will be new interpretation at the rear of the church, and a 21stcentury digital ossuary will be created to enable the public to interrogate the wealth of osteological data recovered from the early Anglo-Saxon Bowl Hole cemetery. The funded project will run for three years and will include an ambitious schools programme, events, lectures and a traveling exhibition culminating in an academic symposium in 2021.

County Councillor for the Bamburgh ward and member of the AONB Partnership, Cllr Guy Renner-Thompson said: "This is such an exciting and extraordinary opportunity to celebrate the remarkable heritage of Bamburgh in a new and innovative way. Hundreds of thousands of visitors come to Bamburgh and only a small percentage know about Bamburgh's significance during the Anglo-Saxon period. We really hope this project will enable people to see how central Bamburgh was in relation to our great northern Christian heritage."

Ivor Crowther, Head of HLF North East, said: "Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we are very pleased to be able to support Accessing Aidan. This is an important project that addresses Bamburgh's Anglo-Saxon significance, as well as enabling access to the interesting and atmospheric crypt."

The project's success is testimony to years of hard work by dedicated volunteers from both Bamburgh Heritage Trust and St Aidan's Parochial Church Council. The initial efforts were led by Jude Aldred, who sadly passed away in June. It is envisaged now that this project will serve as fitting tribute to Jude who was much loved and is greatly missed.

Jessica Turner
Historic and Built Environment Officer
Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership
c/o County Hall, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 2EF
Tel. 01670 622648 // Email.


In December a group of regular Holy Island pilgrims made a pilgrimage to Istanbul. We were granted an hour's audience with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, leader of the world's three hundred million Orthodox Christians.

He affirmed our commitment to heal creation and promote Christian unity. Of our Three Values (Simplicity, Purity of motive, and Obedience to God in each person) he responded: 'This is authentic Christianity!' He was generous in his monastic welcome, and asked us to meet in his office instead of in the usual throne room. 

He has a focus on saving the planet, peace and poverty. He told us about his world-wide meetings to further ecumenical, ecological and economic partnership based on love, including a recent meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury to combat trafficking and slavery, and over eight meetings with Pope Francis.

The patriarch says 'The only viable means of spreading the gospel is the cultivation of one's own soul to become more spacious to embrace all people.' 

He presented us with two of his books and accepted two of our books. We gave his personal Secretary, Dimitri, a book on The Lindisfarne Gospels which describes the Byzantine influence upon them.

The Open Gate has now re-opened for the year and has a full programme of retreats.

Ray Simpson
Founding Guardian, The international Community of Aidan and Hilda



  Pattern of worship for Sundays
8am    Holy Communion (BCP) 
10.45am    Parish Eucharist 
5.30pm    Evensong
Pattern of worship (Monday - Saturday)
   8 am Morning Prayer Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday
   8 am Eucharist Wednesday and Friday
   5.30 pm Evening Prayer every day

please check notice board in church porch in the event of a revision



"Light up a Life"
In Belford and Berwick

meet our hospice team