St Mary's Summer Club has been running in the current format since 2004 and this year, as every year, we  welcomed over 100 children every day but we also enjoyed the company of up to 50 teenagers, young adults and more experienced helpers too.  It's wonderful to know that while our youngsters return day after day and year after year, the club also appeals to a wide range of adults too. Colouring-in, painting, rounders, playing parachute games, singing and dancing have been popular with all ages this week and it's lovely to see different generations of our church family enthusiastically engaged in these activities together.  It has to be said, however, that when it came to meeting Christopher's giant African land snails, our younger participants were a little more enthusiastic than some of the adults.

This year’s theme was The Circus and this proved very popular due to the recent musical film ‘The Greatest Showman’.  The young people, and plenty of the adults too, have enjoyed singing along to the sound track.  The film’s themes of teamwork, accepting the differences of others and being proud of who you are formed the basis of our daily talks provided by Bryce. 

Our youngsters are always divided into groups with the older children being led by Hazel Graham and the younger ones led by myself and Joanne Morrison. Due to the warm, dry weather this year a further group of about 30 children were able to play sports in the Duchess Park every morning under the watchful eye of Des Bradshaw and Stuart Davies. Our big art displays, including  a trapeze artist, Barnum’s large elephant and a giant box of popcorn, are designed by Sarah Reilly and the older children really enjoy creating these more challenging projects under her expert tuition. 

Co-ordinating  and catering for large numbers of young children is not easy and we are grateful, as always, to June Graham – known to all of us as Aunt June – and her team who ensure the children (and helpers!) are well fed and watered.  

This year’s circus theme meant that we took part in lots of side shows in the Avon Hall where we played skittles, made balloon models, played hoopla, hooked a duck and balanced on a tightrope.  Other activities have included: making juggling balls (and trying to successfully juggle with them!), creating mini trapeze artists, colouring animal masks, split pin clowns, making stilts from tin cans (and trying to balance on them!), eating freshly made pop-corn, singing songs under a parachute tent, attempting to beat the minister at football, designing and decorating our own t-shirts, learning new songs and dances, meeting a scorpion called ‘Nipper’ and making the ever popular friendship bracelets – my personal favourite and a craft which effectively symbolises what this week means to all of those who are involved.

It is really difficult to summarise or put into words the atmosphere of the club itself.  It might be described as a ‘warm’ as ‘welcoming’ as ‘fun-filled’ as ‘noisy’ – yes, it is definitely noisy! The whole building is buzzing, it is a hive of activity with busy helpers, excited children and smiling parents – and that atmosphere exists because of the enthusiasm and dedication of our large team.  As a team we would like to thank all the children who attended; the many teenagers who sacrificed a long lie during their school holidays and to the adult helpers who worked so hard - always with a smile on their faces!  Thank you to you all and here’s to St. Mary’s summer club 2019!