.. It would have been a big surprise to the monks of Kirkstall Abbey who built the delightful church of St Mary-le-Ghyll Church at Barnoldswick near Skipton in the 12th century.
For one day the church and the lawns in front of St Mary-le-Ghyll were transformed as families took up the invitation to enjoy a family fun day on the lawn with a teddy bear theme and to bring along their teddy bears for a special teddy bears’ picnic.
Curate at St Mary’s, Revd Julie Clarkson said, “We lost count of the number of people who came along, many of whom settled down and spent several hours enjoying the sunshine and the relaxed atmosphere.”
The doors of the church were open and lots of people took the opportunity to explore its Christian heritage. There were treasure hunts for children, a history leaflet for the enquirers and a guided meditation for the prayerful.
The church bells rang out and those who joined the guided tours of the bell tower were encouraged to have a go for themselves. On a smaller scale were the hand bells where Twinkle, twinkle was occasionally recognisable as children picked out the tune.
“Lots of balloons were given away which brought a smile to the children and a bright colourful effect to the event,” said Julie. “Our face-painters created ‘teddy bear faces’ on both the young and the ‘not-so-young’!”
Children also made teddy bear hats, they cut out and coloured, they pinned the bow tie on the teddy and they decorated teddy bear biscuits. Their ‘carers’ won on the tombola and raffle and throughout it all, the coach house team served tea, coffee and delicious home-made cakes.
“The aim of the day was all about welcome and hospitality,” says Julie. “The congregation pulled together and made it a great success. The sunshine helped and God is good. The event wasn’t about fund-raising and yet it raised £300!”