• A bit from me...
  • Islandshire Archives
  • Holy Island C-of-E first school
  • Crossman Hall
  • Punt Gunning
  • Fearless  Owls enjoy the Island life
  • Part-time Islanders
  • Lindisfarne Castle
  • Natural England
  • Northumberland Coast AONB
  • From Ford & Etal
  • Admiral Nurse service 
  • From the Community of Aidan and Hilda
  • From the Vicarage 
  • St Mary's notices

'The Business End'
Recollecting Island Life

A BIT FROM ME Geoff Porter

Dear *|MMERGE3|* ,

A very warm welcome to our March newsletter.

Those who visit us regularly will realise that our car parks are well filled at most times of the year. Across the nation, the 3-week spread of school half-term holidays normally raises visitor numbers during February/March. But these seem to have been more than doubled by the unusually mild winter period we are experiencing.

Holy Island Causeway: Firstly we must highlight a letter sent to the Parish Council pointing out yet another safety issue for those contemplating crossing Holy Island Causeway. Reacting at once, the Parish Council escalated the matter to the attention of our Police liaison officer. It was also brought to the attention of Anne-Marie Trevelyan (MP) who has been aware of the worsening situation since her election-visit in 2015. Drawn to the Island, hundreds of thousands of visitors use our causeway once each year. However, for residents, there is no choice other than face what can be a perilous 3rd-world highway daily!!

Those who visited at the beginning of the month will have surely felt the sadness as the village closed together to bid farewell to much-loved mother, grandmother and friend, Val Patterson. A pillar of our community and generally leading from the front, Val continued to serve the community throughout her lifetime including the Parish Council, Parochial Church Council, Community Development Trust and Village Hall Committee. You will be missed. Rest in peace dear Val.

Thank you to Sarah who, within a week of taking over HI parish and finding herself in the midst of life and death in her new Parish, has found time to write our 'From the Vicarage' letter - which is now back in place as the newsletter's final word. In addition to her article, as ever, we are indebted to all who have also written for you this month.

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

Geoff Porter
Editor (SitEzine)


Potential for congestion and increased accident risk at Beal Shore  

I am not one who takes up pen and paper at the drop of a hat. But recent additions to the roadside side furniture at Beal Shore, I believe has raised the risk assessment to high for all road users.

Since pre WW11, when the Local Authority build an experimental 100m or so tarmacadam road linked to the end of the public road from the A1 to Beal Shore provisions existed for loads to be dropped above the High Water Mark for onward transport to the Island when the tide was open.

Where the public road ended there has always been a safe area where visitors and passing traffic could safely stop and check the safe crossing times.

As visitor numbers, on foot, by bicycle, car and bus, as well as commercial traffic increased the Local Authority provided a pull in area so Tide Tables could be viewed in relative safety. Recently, a series of unmarked wooden post have appeared close to the busy road shoulder possibly reducing the car waiting spots.

At the end of last week a line of substantial concrete blocks appeared preventing all vehicles from pulling into the Tide Table layby and substantially reducing the width of this narrow busy road.

Holy Island Causeway 2019
photo; Holy Island Parish Council

I have no knowledge of who commissioned these works, but I can see that a very dangerous situation has been created. Many road users, as advised, stop to check the safe crossing times are now at risk from passing and manoeuvring traffic by the narrowing and almost canalisation of the road at this periodically congested area.

There are no warning signs that the road narrows, and congestion or queuing is ahead which cannot be easily seen when travelling from the A1 road.

When I passed yesterday, I wanted to gather information and photographs, but my 'risk assessment' deemed it unsafe to stop...

David O'


The area covered by the archive includes Holy Island and the adjacent mainland from Cocklawburn to Budle Bay.

Headed by archivist, Linda Bankier, the physical archive in the Reading Room was funded by Peregrini and the Lottery Fund which, including the upgrade of the building, benefited the island by over 80,000. The on-line archive again was Peregrini instigated and is based around the island although it also covers part of the mainland. Apart from the initial allocation from Peregrini and the Lottery and Linda being paid by NCC - both the on-line and physical archives have no income stream at present, although once the Reading Room is established this spring, use of it will be chargeable to non-residents and the Reading Room Trustees will be looking to actively fund raise.

Robert Lilburn's keelboat, Brother's Pride - and a steam boat, possibly shipping herring, c. 1900

With the on-line archive the hope and intention is that islanders either living here or who have moved away and other people with connections to the island will add articles and photographs to it, edited by myself in the case of the island and by other editors for the mainland areas.

Whilst at the moment it is currently early days do have a look at it and see what we have done - so far...

John Bevan - Editor
Holy Island Archive


February seems to have come and gone very quickly this year! As usual we have been very busy here at Holy Island C of E First School. We had some especially cold mornings where the causeway was peppered with frozen sand and seaweed - the crisp sunshine and fresh air certainly woke us up.

You might have noticed the children hula hooping over the last few weeks! We took part in a hula hoop workshop with Tracey from Kidz R Fit where the children (and adults) were inspired to take part in basic training followed by the chance to add tricks and group sequences to our skills.  The children - even our own young Nursery and Reception children - were so enthusiastic and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  This was followed by a cheer-leading session which was equally well received.

We celebrated Chinese New Year at the beginning of the month and had a great day with a Chinese feast and the children had a go, with varying levels of success, at using chopsticks. Luckily we had some 'rookie' chopsticks for those who found it just too tricky. We made Chinese dragons to hang in the classroom and created masks to take home. 

One bright, frosty morning we took a walk through the village to the vicarage where we met Sarah our new Vicar. The children had used finger painting to create a beautiful picture of Lindisfarne Castle on a welcome card for Sarah and wanted to deliver it personally. We also welcomed Sarah to Lowick School where she has begun to join us for our collective worship. We are really looking forward to working with Sarah.

As part of our project in Geography we have started to make a huge map of Holy Island in the classroom. We have the outline shape, sea and causeway painted so far. We will be adding detail to the map with textiles, card and paper and using it as a 'living map' to record wildlife and places of interest we see as we are out and about.  Our wildlife camera has picked up what appears to be a water rat down by the Lough - we will let you know of any further developments.

We are looking forward to Pancake Day, Red Nose Day and World Book Day next month. Events like this are great as a stimulus to get the children engrossed in cross-curricular learning. And as the days get warmer, we will begin to re-develop our school garden areas. We hope to move forward with this after the half term holiday and we are planning to grow fruit and vegetables as well as flowers. We are also interested in creating a wildlife friendly meadow area to encourage bees and butterflies to visit our school field. We have already seen a small tortoiseshell butterfly warming itself in the sun on the fence in the garden. Exciting times are ahead here at Holy Island First School!

Heather Stiansen
Holy Island Church of England First School


There was a sharp spell of weather with a few snow flurries at the beginning of the month and several days of fresh wind. But most noticeable was that the days were opening out and it was light before 07:00

I forgot to mention in my January note that when I was doing my walk round inspection, I noticed some unusual marks on the front and side doors. An attempt had been made to force entry into the Hall, whether for shelter or thieving or both! Their efforts had caused minor damage, but the doors are robust. When discussing the incident with another Trustee, we both agreed who we suspected the 'likely lads' to be, and will watch out for them if they return to the Island.

The Trustees met in late January and again in February to review and set hire fees for 2019. We were conscious of;

  • The need to encourage users from the mainland to use the Hall
  • But not to under-sell the extraordinary location that the Island is when looking for a venue, but we must take care not to over price our charges.

Following the installation of our new Vicar a successful Parish Tea Party was held in the Hall. Following a big clean up, the Hall was prepared for our first Wedding Breakfast.

Holy Island Castle; The National Trust completed their refurbishment and the Castle re-opened. One of the first events was a Civil Partnership Ceremony. After, the Happy Couple held their Wedding Breakfast in the Hall, followed by a disco enjoyed by 50 or so guests; this was our first Wedding celebration and was much enjoyed by all attendees.

Susan Cumber from Elwick Farm, provided hot food and table service.

Congratulations Ben & Ed.

Early in February Northumberland County Council inspected and approved Crossman Hall for use as a Polling Station. The first election, so far as we know, will be Thursday 2 May 2019.

Early Notice The first Coffee Morning of the year will be held on Easter Monday from 10:30 to 13:00. All funds raised towards the Hall's annual running expenses.

Any items of bric-a-brac, books, sticky buns and cakes etc., are welcome. Unsold items will be carried over and offered for sale at the next Coffee Morning in aid of Church funds to be held on 27 May.

David O'

Under Sail

This form of shooting has existed for 200 or more years, it started with muzzle loaders and now the majority of guns are breach loading, although few are in use.

Punting was developed for and by gentlemen shooters to use in large estuaries where huge populations of wildfowl gathered. Some who commissioned punts had several built and located in their in favoured stalking spots, like the Wash, Blackwater and Lindisfarne. Some who stalked these shores were Abel Chapmen, Stanley Duncan and Sir Ralph Payne-Gallway.

The punt was usually 2 manned, pushed by a local who had an intimate knowledge of the lie of the land and the owner acting as gunner. The local would also maintain the boat and occasionally set out for a shot himself.

In the 1900's a wage was about 1.00 per week. If he was able to bag a Wigeon with a shoulder gun or have a successful shot with the punt, he could earn 15p per bird when sold to the local butcher, a princely sum for a fisherman unable to get to sea because of weather.

A two man decked, grey painted punt, was about 24'(7.5m) with a beam of 3' (900mm) flat bottomed and drew 4" (250mm) and had combings of about 4" (200mm) to help reduce the risk of taking in water if the punt got broadside on to the tide and help hide the crew during the stalk. The boat was built to accommodate two men and the gun that was 9' (3m) long, with a bore of 1.5". It was secured to the punt with by the breaching rope running from the stem head to the trunnions that formed part of the gun near the breach. Before firing, a cartridge loaded with 500grams of black power and a similar amount of BB or No1 shot was loaded into the breach. The effective range was 50/60m.

The boats gear usually included two sculls, setting pole, hand paddle, a sail, a gun-stick, 2 pairs of patterns and at least one cripple stopper. Aiming the gun was achieved by pushing the punt slowly towards the quarry and using the gun-stick to adjust the elevation of the barrel.

Here, locals looking for a shot would scan the likely spots from the Priests Field wall looking across to the South Corner and along to the Mill Burn looking for Wigeon that had fed and come down to the tides edge to rest, bath and prune. Locals using their knowledge and experience would only head out if there was a chance of a shot. However, the visitor Puntsman would launch from the Causeway on the ebb, hoping to find a shot and be unable to return to the road until the tide flooded.

During the low water period the punt would use the lie of the land to hide and view the best opportunity to close on a shot, slowly stalking the birds at or near the tides edge. When the punt was close both men lay on the boats bottom boards and the crew pushed slowly towards the Wigeon, always trying to keep the punt head on to the birds. At the same time the Gunner held a mental picture of where the duck where and listening to the whistles of the Wigeon growing close. As the stalk progressed the Gunner readied the lanyard to fire, was the elevation right or did he have to move the gun-stick to help achieve a good clean kill. When 60m or so off if the men decide to fire, a side flap in the combing would drop, a hand banged down on the decking and the birds lifted, the gun fired. Energy from firing, as well as propelling the shot, caused a recoil that could push the punt backwards through the water by several metres.   

After firing the punt was quickly grounded and the men grabbed their 'cripple stoppers' and went after any pricked birds. After dispatching any close-by birds, if the ground was soft mud or quicksand, they would fit their patterns and search for any wounded or dead Wigeon. It was important that all birds brought down were recovered and none were lost. A shot of 40 or 50 Wigeon could be bagged.

Punt rescued and brought safely home by FV Island Star

Returning to the Island as the tide flooded was not without risk, but given a fair wind and keeping out of the main tideway, they could sail home. Whenever a local put out there was always someone on the Island with an eye out for the men's safety. Occasionally in poor weather a punt could be walked home along the tides edge. But in shabby weather there were occasions when a fishing boat would put out from the harbour and offer a tow in.

When I managed and policed wildfowling up to 5 punts were operational. Now only an occasional visiting Puntsman may be seen. Truly a dying sport in more ways than one way!.

David O'


It has been a great winter on the island for Short-eared Owls which have been patiently quartering the rougher fields and dunes in a never-ending hunt for their favoured prey, voles.

They're the most obvious of owls simply because of their habit of hunting during daytime. Most of our other owls are largely nocturnal although the island's resident Barn Owls seem increasingly to appear by day. For example, on a bright and sunny New Year's Day I watched one drifting slowly from the Heugh and then low through the Vicarage garden.

But back to our Short-eared Owls.  At one stage over the winter I reckon there were up to ten on the island. Up to four were regularly hunting the fields between the north end of the Straight Lonnen and the Lough, one was around the Rocket Field and Crooked Lonnen and yet another in the dunes between Sandham Bay and Snipe Point. Others were regularly on the Snook.

With their smart brown plumage, long wings and glaring yellow eyes, these owls are always a joy to watch, particularly as it's often possible to get close to them. They're quite fearless or perhaps just largely oblivious of human presence, often flying within a few feet.

The owls hunt by slowly and systematically quartering low over the fields, heads bend downwards in searching, before making sudden plunges into the tussocks.  Usually, they rise immediately and flap on, a sign of they missed their fleeting target or that nothing was there in the first place. When they stay on the ground for a few minutes it's normally because they've been successful and are swallowing their prey whole, as most owls do.

When not hunting, the 'Shorties'  are normally resting concealed by thick ground cover or simply using the stone walls and fence lines as handy resting places.

During winter they seem solitary creatures.  On many occasions I've seen two hunting owls come face to face. The outcome is predictable.  They'll spiral together in an aggressive flying tussle, often with harsh barking calls. Then they will quickly breaking apart, each going their own way. They just don't seem to like each-other's company.

They can be aggressive to other species as well. A few winters ago I regularly watched a Kestrel which would silently shadow Barn Owls as they were hunting at dusk. It would wait for the owl to do the hard work and catch a vole. The Kestrel would then dive in screaming and snatch the prey and be off before the poor owl realised what was happening.

On one occasion it tried robbery with violence on a Short-eared Owl. Instead of releasing the prey, the owl agilely turned over in the air, swiped at the Kestrel with its talons and put it to instant flight. They're  obviously much tougher and more formidable characters than our Barn Owls.

Short-eared Owls normally begin to arrive on the island in autumn, usually flapping low over the wave-tops and almost inevitably accompanied by squadrons of mobbing gulls. On reaching land their first instinct is to dive into cover to rest and recuperate.

They are scarce breeders in Britain's uplands and most of our winter owls come from much larger populations in Scandinavia where they nest as far north as the Arctic tundra with its teeming populations of Lemmings. They are forced to move out in winter and migrate southwards right across Europe.

Research, mainly from recoveries of ringed birds, has shown they are great wanderers in search of good hunting areas. Birds which come to Britain one winter may well spend others in Eastern or Southern Europe.  Their wanderings might seem random to us but they are driven by the need to find food. Once they find a hunting area with abundant small mammals they will remain, only to move onwards as prey diminishes.

When I say that most of our owls are immigrants from northern Europe, some fascinating recent research in Scotland has shown that things can be a bit more complicated than that. This involved catching and fitting breeding birds with satellite trackers, something that has revolutionised the study of many migrant birds.

One female trapped at a nest site and fitted with a tag left the area as soon as her young had fledged. Against all expectations, she crossed then the North Sea to Norway. Regular readings showed that she then remained in a remote area for a couple of months. This was long enough for speculation that she might have found and new mate and raised another brood of young.

Then wanderlust took over again. She re-crossed the North Sea to Scotland. But instead of returning to her original area she kept moving westwards, eventually crossing to Ireland where she settled in what seemed to be a good wintering area in the far west of the country.  In the course of a year she'd been in three countries, perhaps breeding in two of them. It was a great demonstration of the great mobility of this species.

Fearless: This hunting owl isn't put off by the presence of photographer Mike Carr

Our winter owls are great to watch. Look out for them next time you're out around the island as they'll probably be gone soon.

When I say that most of our owls are immigrants from northern Europe, some fascinating recent research in Scotland has shown that things can be a bit more complicated than that. This involved catching and fitting breeding birds with satellite trackers, something that has revolutionised the study of many migrant birds.

One female trapped at a nest site and fitted with a tag left the area as soon as her young had fledged. Against all expectations, she crossed then the North Sea to Norway. Regular readings showed that she then remained in a remote area for a couple of months. This was long enough for speculation that she might have found and new mate and raised another brood of young.

Then wanderlust took over again. She re-crossed the North Sea to Scotland. But instead of returning to her original area she kept moving westwards, eventually crossing to Ireland where she settled in what seemed to be a good wintering area in the far west of the country.  In the course of a year she'd been in three countries, perhaps breeding in two of them. It was a great demonstration of the great mobility of this species.

Our winter owls are great to watch. Look out for them next time you're out around the island as they'll probably be gone soon.


Collecting Cuddy Beads

Amid grains of sand and broken mussel shells, we seek our treasure. Scanning the freshly washed shoreline we are lost in concentration; can we find another Cuddy bead?

This obsession started in the early 1970s, when as toddlers our mum and dad brought us to the Island. They introduced us to beading... and we were hooked. 

Legend has it that St Cuthbert would sit at night on his island, carve his beads and throw them into the sea for the monks to find in the morning.  Even Sir Walter Scott must have heard the story.... he put it in his poem of 1808 called 'Marmion';

"Saint Cuthbert sits, and toils to frame,
The sea-born beads that bear his name."

As kids, we thought that St Cuthbert must have had amazing eyesight because the beads are very difficult to spot on the beach.  Ranging in size from just a few millimeters to whoppers of 2cm, close up they are very beautiful; some with starred centers, others perfectly carved edges.

It was only as we got older, we discovered that Cuddy beads are actually 300-million-year-old fossils called Crinoids, a type of sea lily that would have attached itself to the seabed by its stalk.    The beads are just the fossilized segments of that stalk left behind for beady little eyes to find.

After 40 or so years of being part time islanders, we have honed our skills and are now quite good at beading.  Our jars of fossils would make the British Museum proud, but for us they are a wonderful reminder of the fun we've had along this windswept beach in the lee of St Cuthbert's isle.

Livia Russell


The castle opened on 13 February for the 2019 season and we are holding a new exhibition called Past Present Future for the first six weeks or so. This is a small interpretative display which covers aspects of the castle's story going right back to the buildings origins, but also talks about the recent project and the next exhibition we have planned for April onwards. We have been able to use one of the oral history recordings gathered in the recent work on the Island, and more are due to be used in the next exhibition. We also are telling for the first time the story of Rob Kyle and the wreck of the Locksley, the vessel which struck Emmanuel Head in 1938 and her crew (5 men and a terrier) were rescued by Kyle in his coble Sarah Brigham. Kyle must have picked up or been given the ship's bell as 73 years later during some routine rummaging I came across it in a store cupboard. The bell is now on display in the Ship Room and the story of the Locksley is told in that room.

Elsewhere in the castle we have put on display items found in the many archaeological digs which took place during the 2016-2018 works. The bulk of these finds aren't that interesting but do tell us small details; oyster shells used in the limework, bits of crab claws and shells telling us gulls hovered above the castle in the 18th century just as they do now. The items chosen for the exhibits tell more human stories; a large number of clay tobacco pipes were found discarded in latrine chutes and their midden heaps, going back to the early days of tobacco use in this country in the early 17th century. Some examples from the 1800s have initials scraped into them, such as 'TW' and 'MP' - the latter could have belonged to Mark Punshon of the Invalid Battalion stationed here in 1807 - but also floral patterns and even tiny ink drawings on the pipe stems. We also have a uniform button, a couple of rifle shells from the 20th century - one almost certainly from the Home Guard unit which mustered here from 1941 - and a Victorian penny. Without being able to use the originals we have reproduced the graffiti found on the back of timber laths put there in 1905 by a joiner called Tom Bruce from Berwick. He eloped with an island girl and ended up in Australia, and amazingly his relatives visited here to find out more about him, only weeks after we had first spotted the inscriptions. As part of this year's visitor offer, we have brought back a number of collections items including tables, chairs, pewter and copper objects, and some ceramics. Most notable Macdonald Gill's masterful Wind Indicator is back on the wall in the Entrance Hall, the first thing most people see when they enter the building.

After this exhibition we move on the main event, entitled Now You See Me, which will aim to tell stories from the castle's past but with more of an immersive approach from the off. Sounds and smells as well as visual elements will go alongside other contents including some original collections to create an amazing experience which we think will be well worth seeing.

Our shop has also opened back up this month and has new ranges in ahead of the busy period at Easter. We are also hoping to have products relating to the exhibitions at the castle on offer later in the season.

Best wishes,

Nick Lewis
Lindisfarne Castle
01289 389903


It feels as though February has only just begun, but the shortest month is drawing already to an end. It has been a busy month and the team have been working hard to complete habitat management tasks on the Reserve. In the dunes on the Snook we have been tackling scrub - hand pulling and cutting hawthorn to maintain duneland habitats for flora and fauna. Larger hawthorn shrubs are kept due to their importance for passerine birds. We have also been continuing to remove sheep droppings from the grazed dune slacks, in order to create nutrient-poor habitats in which orchids will thrive.

It feels like spring is already upon us. The mild weather has seen amphibians emerge - on the wet slack near the Snook we spotted a large Common Frog with golden rimmed eyes and a palpitating throat. Fluttering skylarks are singing in the dunes. At the Lough, Mallards are pairing up. These distinctive birds are early breeders amongst ducks.

We tested people's duck knowledge at a 'Love Birds' event a few days ago, challenging children and adults alike to pair up images of some of the Reserve's duck species. Mallards and Eider provided no difficulties, Teal and Shoveller baffled some, whilst the brightly coloured Shelduck surprised those who believed all female ducks to be brown and subdued in colour. The event launched our year's events programme - available on our website - which seeks to engage the interest of locals and visitors alike in our natural world and the spectacular wildlife and habitats of the Reserve. Events range from rocky shore rambles to recycling events, from beach cleans to bird watches.

We have been continuing non-native species monitoring and removal, moving from the terrestrial to the marine environment. We have been surveying the Reserve's rocky shore, a fascinating and diverse habitat which is currently under threat from small alien invaders, who hitched lifts on ships from the southern hemisphere. These aliens are Orange-Tipped Sea Squirt, small creatures resembling Werther's Originals or small lumps of orange-tinted jelly. They live on the bottom of rocks and compete with other sessile (non-moving) species for space, a valuable commodity on the rocky shore, and for food. Monitoring and removal of the species is ongoing.

We are busy too preparing for shorebird season - it is not so long until the end of April, when the rare Little Terns will return to breed on Northumberland's sandy beaches. Charismatic Ringed Plover are already starting to establish breeding territories across the Reserve.

Peak counts of birds on the Reserve include 1000 Bar-tailed Godwits on the high tide roost at St. Cuthbert's Island, 223 Pintail on Fenham Flats and 1000 light-bellied Brent geese south of Fenham Flats on the 17th Feb, 6500 Pink-footed geese on the Reserve on the 1st and 950 Barnacle geese recorded during a low-tide count on the 10th February.

Ceris Aston
Lindisfarne & Newham NNRs
Natural England
Beal Station


Put your tap on the map to reduce plastic litter

Businesses on the Northumberland coast are being urged to put their tap on the map and sign up to the Refill scheme to help reduce the amount of plastic bottles ending up on beaches and in the sea. Refill is an award-winning campaign which aims to prevent millions of plastic bottles ending up in the environment by making it easier to fill up a reusable bottle with tap water.

The Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership are launching a new campaign to get businesses on the coast to sign up to the scheme which will tell visitors were they can get their water bottles up refilled.

Iain Robson from the AONB Partnership said "We know that most of our businesses on the coast are only too happy to fill up water bottles with tap water for visitors, but there are only three businesses in the AONB registered on the Refill App currently. This scheme gives people confidence that they won't be turned away from somewhere or cause upset when they ask for their bottles to be refilled."

Charlotte Hawkins from the Refill Campaign said "It has become a social norm to drink bottled water when we're on the go' even though we have some of the safest tap water in the world. In the UK alone we consume 13 billion plastic bottles a year. Many of these bottles are disposed of properly and recycled but some inevitably end up in the sea and on the beach.

"Refill aims to make it easier for people to fill up their water bottles when they're out by telling them which businesses near to them will do this."

Kate Sutherland at the Stableyard

Kate Sutherland runs the Stableyard at Craster and is one of the businesses already on the Refill App, Kate said "We were only too happy to fill people's water bottles up from our tap so letting them know this by being on the Refill App made perfect sense. As a business in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty we know that a clean environment is one of the main reasons people come to the Northumberland coast and we want to do as much as we can to help keep that way".

Heidi Mottram, Chief Executive of Northumbrian Water, said: "Those living in a coastal town know all too well the harm that plastics can do to the environment and I'm delighted to hear that businesses on the Northumberland coast are getting behind the campaign. Refill is a fantastic way to help protect this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and I am confident that businesses will make it as big a success here as it has been in other areas across the North East."

If you're a business with a tap that is happy to refill water bottles or has a publicly accessible tap you can join the scheme and feature on the app. Just visit and register on the website.

The AONB Partnership are already working with Coast Care, Plastic-free Beadnell and the North Northumberland Tourism Association to promote the scheme and are looking for more volunteers to speak to businesses in their own communities. If you are interested in volunteering to talk businesses please contact Anna Chouler at Coast Care by email or call 07816 603953.

Encouraging businesses to sign up to the Refill App is the first campaign to be launched by the AONB Partnership as a result of their recent beach litter survey. A social media campaign will begin at Easter to encourage visitors to reduce the environmental impact of their trip to the coast.

Iain Robson
Tel.  01670 622660

FROM FORD & ETAL Elspeth Gilliland

Heatherslaw Light Railway & Lady Waterford Hall: open for the season Sunday 24th March.

Heatherslaw Cornmill Site: opens for the season Monday 25th March.

The Mill and Hall will operate on shorter hours (11am-3pm) until Friday 5th April after which they will open from 10am-5pm/11am-5pm daily.

Cycle Hire:  has moved from Heatherslaw to Ford.  Bikes are available to hire at Ford Village Shop, 01890 820230, email


Admiral Nurse Service for HospiceCare North Northumberland: We are delighted to announce that in partnership with Dementia UK, we have recruited an Admiral Nurse, Betty Lucas - the very first for North Northumberland.  Betty will work in partnership with Dementia UK to maintain excellent standards and specialist skills in dementia care, as well as being an integral member of our Hospice team providing palliative and end of life care.

What does an Admiral Nurse do?

Admiral Nurses provide specialist dementia support that families need.  When things get challenging or difficult an Admiral Nurse will work alongside people with dementia, their families and carers: giving them one-to-one support, expert guidance and practical solutions.  The unique dementia expertise and experience an Admiral Nurse brings is a lifeline - it helps families to live more positively with dementia in the present, and to face the challenges of tomorrow with more confidence and less fear.

The Admiral Nurse enable people who are living with advanced dementia, who have specialist palliative care needs to access the best quality of life and symptom management at the end of life.

The Admiral Nurse work closely with the existing Hospice Team, community nursing services, and dementia services to identify the palliative care needs of family carers and people living with dementia on their caseloads, ensuring that they are appropriately reviewed in multidisciplinary meetings/practice meetings and linked into hospice services.

The service will be offered to people registered with a North Northumberland GP who have a diagnosis of dementia who have reached the advanced stage of their illness, including their families and carers.

For more information, please contact HospiceCare: T. 01665 606515 or E. W.

Julie Frost
Marketing & Communications


The three residents who staff the Open Gate and High Rigg have been given updated job descriptions. Kayleah is House Manager, Jutta is Catering Manager, and Robert is Site Manager.  Robert also oversees the rota of those who maintain week-day Midday and Night Prayers. Judith Line, who lives at Shilbottle, is a fourth presence. As well as being librarian, she comes in once a week to offer listening accompaniment, engagement with our Way of Life, and an extra pair of hands.

At least until a full time appointment is made, spiritual direction is offered to guests by myself one day each week (they are invited to contact me direct), and by Carol also by arrangement. Someone in vows with The Community of Aidan and Hilda acts as a presence and as a volunteer most weeks.

There is a saying 'I come in the little things' says the Lord.  We try to do little things as best we can.

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

FROM THE VICARAGE Rev Canon Dr. Sarah Hills

Well, I've been in post now for four weeks. And what a wonderful welcome my husband Richard and I have been given! Thank you to everyone for making us feel so at home. This is my first letter as Vicar of St. Mary's, Holy Island. It's quite a change from Coventry...

I'm looking forward to getting to know the people of the island and the wider congregation. It is a real privilege to be living and working in such a place - especially as, in the past few days, it seems that spring is on the way! The past few months have been rather hectic - travelling, moving, new jobs ... and and and ... but the rhythm of the tides has helped us both to feel settled and happy here.

As we (hopefully!) enter Spring, so we also in the Church's year, come in to the season of Lent. A time of reflection and preparation for the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We mark the beginning of Lent on March 6th - Ash Wednesday - when we will have a service of Holy Communion and imposition of ashes in St Mary's at 7pm. If you've never experienced this service before, do is a calm and meditative time to consider again our life and faith journey.

During Lent, we will also be holding a Lent Course, where we can come together for a time of learning, discussion, fellowship and refreshment. The theme is 'A Peaceful Lent', and we will spend time sharing thoughts and experiences around what makes for peace as Christians in our communities and beyond, covering aspects of forgiveness, truth, justice and reconciliation. The sessions are stand alone, lasting about an hour, and people are welcome to come to one, some or all. No prior knowledge is necessary! They will be held at the Vicarage.

'A Peaceful Lent'

Session 1 - Thursday March 14th @11.30am, with a light lunch
Session 2 - Tuesday March 19th @ 6pm, with tea and cake
Session 3 -Thursday March 28th @ 4.30pm, with tea and cake
Session 4 - Saturday April 6th @ 11.30am, with a light lunch

March 20th is St. Cuthbert's Day, when we commemorate and celebrate his life and ministry. We will be holding an informal service on the beach looking over St Cuthbert's Island in the morning joined by our local schools.

In the evening, there will be a service in St. Mary's celebrating St Cuthbert's life. Details to follow.

All welcome!

Looking forward to seeing you soon!





  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



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