Easter rainbow flag flies high from Great Yarmouth Minster
17 April 2020
Team Vicar the Revd Jemma Sander-Heys handmade a special flag for Easter with a rainbow design that also pays tribute to front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was literally a labour of love. Each item of clothing was from her family, which made it all the more personal. Jemma takes up the tale:
“I thought, how can we celebrate the Hope of Easter in a way which can actually offer hope and encouragement to the whole Parish when everyone really needs it? And I thought – well people are already using a Biblical symbol of hope and promise everywhere to show their thanks to all those brave keyworkers and NHS staff looking after us, so I thought that was perfect as it would be both a visible sign of faith and hope and of thanks too. When it comes to showing a sign far and wide, we are well equipped with a tall church tower on Great Yarmouth Minster that shows for miles across the marshes and sea. That is exactly what tall church buildings are for it seems to me: a unifying sign of hope.
“So then I thought, okay God, if you want me to go ahead with this crazy plan, you had better help me find a suitable piece of cloth to sew it on. I went to my blanket box and right at the top was this eight ft by five ft cotton cambric tablecloth. Well, I used to work in a haberdashery so I knew it was strong enough to withstand the wind and from then I just had to find enough bright, colourfast, lightweight fabrics to applique the rainbow.
“My daughter and I drew it on the first side using a pen and a piece of string to make the arc, and by the time I came to sew the second side, the stitching showed as the template. The flag took about 36 hours work over the course of a week including unpicking clothes to make the rainbow patchwork and finishing the thickest seams by hand with a sailmakers’ needle. The rope came from our rowing boat, and we tied it with Fisherman’s line knots which won’t fail, (and which seemed appropriate) and our flag captain, Michael Pearson, had dropped the Inglefield clips round to our house.
“I had a phone conversation about how to use them and to ask him what he thought of the plan after I found the tablecloth. Michael raised the flag for on Easter Day at 12noon – and Joel played the trumpet – ‘Thine be the Glory’. They were both very moved, that people around (unseen, in their houses) applauded. Since then it seems that people have indeed been cheered and encouraged by the shared sign of hope flying over the whole parish.”
“Thea’s primary school jumper (used with her permission) was a perfect indigo blue. I’m not sure if she’ll be going back to primary school (she’s in year 6), but as she said, it will be too warm for jumpers then even if she does! It would be sad, but instead, it’s lovely to set it flying high on a flag.
“I wore this 1960s vintage mini-dress when I played the female lead in a weird play ‘Dark Lucy’, about a depressed actress and a dangerous fan… It’s a nice dress though, and I was rather sad to see it go (although the material is horrible polyester).
“That two-tone green anorak: only the bright green was any good and there wasn’t much of it for two sides. It made the patchwork applique fiddly and unpicking the seams was troublesome.
“Bought this anorak in a sale when Thea was a baby; a custard colour cheerful, I wore it horse-riding a few times…
“I rather liked this 1960s maxi dress. It was good for a fake mediaeval party look. Still, I’ve kept the top section with the smocking as Thea can use it for dressing up.
“My lovely sewing machine…. sewing the final edge of the second side (because there needs to be a rainbow appliqued to BOTH sides!).
“Thea is standing on the arm of the sofa here to hold it up. It’s actually not too heavy as all the fabric apart from the cotton tablecloth is lightweight, but it will still need a strong breeze to fly!”