A new place of learning
The day began with the dedication of a new classroom at St Mary’s Church of England VA Primary School in Roughton. This was an eagerly anticipated event that had had to be rearranged three times due to the pandemic. Welcomed at the gate by two year 6’s and Headteacher Kathryn Jackson, Bishop Graham was led through to the playground to take part in an open-air service with the pupils singing enthusiastically!
The oldest and youngest pupils in the school, which has 96 pupils in total, then helped Bishop Graham to cut the ribbon on the new classroom building for the split-year 1 and 2 form. “God bless this new Elms classroom, that you will bring new life through the learning that takes place in it,” prayed Bishop Graham. He then stood on a chair to reach above the front door and draw a cross in chalk. The plan is for pupils to copy and decorate this in some more permanent form. Two more year 6 pupils showed the Bishop around the rest of the school and he was particularly interested to hear about some of their eco experiences and ideas. ”A wonderful school with a big heart,” he declared.
Next it was on to meet with parishioners in the Langham area at Binham Priory. An opportunity for Bishop Graham to listen and discuss their hopes and concerns. It also offered a chance to purchase some Binham Blue cheese enroute!
Buzzing bees and questions at Greshams
Lunch with students at Gresham’s School was followed by a tour of the new Dyson building and a visit to the chapel to see the installation of over 800 paper doves suspended above the West end of the chapel, each inscribed with prayers for peace by pupils from across the school in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
This was followed by a dedication of the new apiary for “Queens House” whose logo is a bee, so they are looking to start keeping their own. “May they taste the goodness of honey and the delight of the natural world around them,” prayed Bishop Graham, himself a beekeeper.
Next came, in the Bishop’s own words “A tough ‘grill a bishop’ session” with pupils. For some 40 minutes students were able to throw any questions at Bishop Graham, with no pre-warning, for him to respond. He relishes these exchanges and the questions ranged widely from gender and sexual ethics to Norwich City. He appreciated the thoughtfulness of the students, and it would appear from exchanges reported afterwards, they too appreciated his honest responses.
Inspirational service at Holt Youth Project
The Revd Jack Brandford, chaplain of Gresham’s, accompanied us the short distance to the Holt Youth Project, which is one of Gresham’s long-term charity partners. He introduced Bishop Graham to the inspirational Co-founder and Manager, Julie Alford. Bishop Graham listened to her miraculous story of following God’s call, starting from humble, but faith-fuelled beginnings in 2004 to the diverse support project that operates today. A tour of the building revealed the wide variety of support offered to young people across North Norfolk from young carers to those experiencing mental health issues, unemployment, poverty and more. “It’s all about loving, nurturing and celebrating each young person,” Julie explained.
A community of kindness
Then it was onward to Thornage Hall, an independent charity in rural North Norfolk that provides supported living, learning and working for adults with learning disabilities. With about 27 residents there are a similar number of day visitors who all have the opportunity to do traditional arts and crafts and farming activities.
The tour, by tenants, staff and trustees began in the weavery. Tenants proudly demonstrated their weaving skills and Bishop Graham presented Frances with a birthday card and a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday was sung by all! Through the arts and crafts rooms and the woodworking area, where some really wonderful work was on display and then out through the biodynamic farm and market garden to the memorial garden. Bishop Graham helped to plant a tree in the memorial garden as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy.
The visit was rounded off with tea and cake at Gergories Barn which afforded an opportunity for Bishop Graham to meet other tenants and staff. He was presented with a generous box of goodies that were all made on site. He said “A wonderfully happy community. What a blessing to spend time with the residents, staff and trustees!”
Bishop Graham’s very full day concluded with the Holt Deanery Synod in the evening, during which a time of prayer was held for the situation in Ukraine.