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Tasting and seeing the life in the Thetford & Rockland Deanery

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A delicious lunch was conjured up at St Cuthbert’s Church in Thetford for Bishop Graham to enjoy while meeting, chatting with and listening to the local clergy team. A community café is planned, working out of a well-equipped kitchen that produced a restaurant-quality three-course meal. The intention is to enable local people from disadvantaged circumstances to gain experience and training in the catering trade and provide a wonderful facility for the local community in the town centre.

A visit to Bishop’s Primary Academy followed where Bishop Graham joined in with an act of worship in the afternoon assembly. Willing participant, Mia, donned the pectoral cross, mitre and held the crozier while the Bishop explained their significance.

Some Year 6 pupils then grilled the Bishop on all things Trinitarian. There were some pretty tricky questions and Bishop Graham invited Revds Tony Heywood, Peter Herbert and Matthew Jackson to contribute towards the answers too! There are close links between the DNEAT academy and the local church: Grace Church meets in the main school hall each Sunday afternoon and runs a parent and toddler group there on Fridays.

From there it was a different sensory experience with a blustery visit to High Lodge at Thetford Forest. Richard Brooke, Forestry England’s Planning and Environment Manager gave the Bishop a short tour and overview of the careful management of forestry and leisure – allowing people to connect with nature in a variety of ways. With Bishop Graham’s past experience as a member of the Forestry Commission’s regional advisory committee in the North East of England, he was in his element.

Back to the sense of taste as the Bishop then undertook a tour of the nearby English Whisky Company. Bishop Graham learned about the intricacies of the distilling process, from our able guide, David. We also learned that “God is good” was the medieval term for yeast! Along with learning that the “angels’ share” is what evaporates off while the whisky is ageing in the barrels, it was an educational experience. A small tasting session was partaken.

Next was a stop off for some hot chocolate in the café at the Rocklands Community Shop. This much-valued and well-stocked store was taken on by the community about six years ago. It’s been expanded to include a café which is a wonderful hub for the locals to meet. Bishop Graham used the opportunity to purchase stamps from the Post Office to write to his son, currently on a visit to The Gambia.

The deanery visit concluded with a Eucharist service at St Mary’s Attleborough. The Bishop shared some of his faith journey along with which pages of the hymn book he would save from the waves in true “Desert Island Disc” style. He was touched to see Stations of the Cross at St Mary’s Attleborough given in memory of a friend of his from his days in the Diocese of York.

A full buffet was served after the service, giving Bishop Graham a chance to meet and talk with parishioners – and to enjoy yet more tasty food and drink!