Sunday evening was a very special village event in Colgate. A packed St Saviour’s Church was joined by the Bishop of Horsham to celebrate 150 years since it was established. It was a great reason to get people together and hear the story about how a new parish was created and fascinating insights into life in the village in the not too distant past – within living memory one resident was still collecting her daily supply of water from a nearby spring.
In the overall scheme of things 150 years isn’t long. The Victorians thought of themselves as extraordinarily modern. The advert for the church’s consecration pointed out that the station at Faygate was only 1.5 miles away, 1871 was the first year it became possible to do what must have seemed almost inconceivable and send a telegram to Australia. How could they in this very quiet corner of Sussex imagine what 21st century expectations would involve: from paid annual holidays (the first four bank holidays were introduced in 1871), to fridges, television and the internet to universal healthcare free at the point of use.
The transformation has been extraordinary but in the same way that our Victorian ancestors embraced change to improve living standards and society we must constantly strive to do the same. It was really positive to meet a large number of Millais students for a very open discussion on Friday. I rarely leave a discussion like that without having some of my initial perceptions challenged and without a positive idea to take forward – and speaking to very bright and engaged Millais students was no exception.
Leaving from Colgate village hall on Sunday night I embarked on rather a different experience making my way to our Aircraft Carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, in the middle of the Mediterranean in order to host the next day the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s political decision making body. For the benefit of attendees (who were on deck) the Royal Navy launched and recovered F35 jets. Quite an amazing experience for all involved.
The capability which our Aircraft Carriers can project is extremely impressive and has been noted throughout the “Strike Group’s” long voyage. The Council was the last major engagement in an activity that has taken the ships 40,000 nautical miles to visits and exercises with 40 friendly countries. In a less certain world our friends are very pleased to see us: the willingness and ability of nations to stick up for the international rules based order is vital, that is what we and our allies continue to do.
Photo credit: St Saviours, Colgate celebrated 150 years since the church’s consecration at a special evening service on Sunday 21st November. Left to right: Churchwarden John Sired, Jeremy Quin MP, Father Russell Stagg, the Bishop of Horsham and Piers Calvert (Church Patron).