News Update

Dear friends,
Whenever I visit my mother in Aberystwyth I always try to get to the sea front. It is a place that holds many memories for me of childhood outings, the three years I spent living there as a student and of walks with friends and family in all weathers. Even on dismal winter days there is always something to see and somebody to meet. Last month was no exception as Llys y Brenin Square had become the setting for a visiting sculpture, the National Monument Against Violence and Aggression or ‘The Knife Angel’ as it is more generally known.

I had heard of this figure made from over 100,000 seized blades, which has been touring the UK to raise awareness of knife crime, but I wasn’t prepared for the impact it would make on me.
It is an imposing structure rising 27 feet from the ground. From a distance, there is beauty and elegance to the bronze wings which glint in the sun but as I approached, I shivered as I realised that they were made up of thousands of rusty blades of all shapes and sizes from hatchets and swords to tiny daggers. And the colours on the torso are from the handles of thousands of penknives also seized by the police or yielded in knife amnesties around the country. Some of the blades are inscribed with messages from the families of victims – a chilling reminder of the devastating impact of knife crime. As I stood at the barrier, my eyes were drawn up to the angel’s grim face modelled on that of its sculptor Alfie Bradley. I found it difficult at first to interpret its expression. Was it sorrow, grief or anger or all three? And then I noticed that the angel was looking down at his upturned hands and it dawned on me that the whole sculpture is simply asking the question ‘Why?’.

As I reflected on the experience of visiting the sculpture in the days that followed, I became aware of the frequency of that question in my prayers during the last year as I have shared with God my sorrow, grief and anger about the state our world is in. ‘Why, Lord’, is a frequent question in the Psalms of Lament as the authors, at the end of their tether, turn to God for help. This summer and autumn, during the season of Ordinary Time we will be using the Eucharistic Prayer for Times of Lament in our services from time to time. According to the introduction to this new liturgy, ‘Lament is not only about bemoaning suffering and tragedy in the world, but also about acknowledging God’s sovereignty, remembering God’s saving work in the past, and discerning God’s continuing work in the present and into the future – and committing ourselves to being part of that work of transforming the world, so that humanity may live in justice and peace’.

I hope you will be encouraged  to continue to be part of that work of transforming the world through prayer and action by reading the updates below:

It is a year since Kate Sainsbury came to St Mary’s during Carers’ Week to introduce us to her son Louis and to the Appletree Community near Auchterarder which was to become his home. Much has happened in this time including the completion of the renovation of the steading to accommodate up to three people with profound and complex needs. The main challenge, however, has been the putting together of a team of carers to support Louis and  to prepare and train them for their task.

Thanks to a great deal of prayer and hard work, the stage was reached last month where Louis was able to be discharged from the secure hospital ward where he had been held. For a number of weeks before hand, visits and overnight stays were organised so that Louis  was prepared for a very different way of life from the one he had been used to. The transition hasn’t been easy with Louis showing signs of trauma from his five years in captivity but there have also been moments of great joy and signs of  hope that he will flourish as he settles into his new life with  trusted relationships, in a purpose-built, beautiful place, with routines and regular activities.

The photos show Louis welcoming friends to his new home, crafting with his mother and enjoying a family meal

In the meantime, Kate, who is a Lay Reader,  has been busy raising awareness of the plight of people living with autism and the issue of the lack of adequate pay for support workers, by sharing Louis’ story in conferences and in the media, at meetings with leaders and policy makers and with faith communities. Please continue to pray for the Appletree Community and if you feel you can help in any way, please get in touch. You are also welcome to join Kate, Nerys, Jeanette and other supporters of the community  at the  weekly Appletree on-line prayer meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday evenings


Please continue to pray also for our friends who visited from Castlemilk Refugee Project last month. Along with their project leader, Eileen Baxendale, and her husband Keith came twenty mostly young people and children who belong to asylum-seeker families. They had come to thank us for organising the monthly collection of  children and baby items which are distributed to families in need in Castlemilk and to refugee families across the Central Belt. They had also come to worship with us and make friends.  We hope to organise another visit before the end of the summer.

Many of you have been asking how you can support these families further. Eileen has been thinking and praying about this and has  proposed a way of supporting one very gifted young  asylum seeker from Castlemilk who is a member of Cricket Scotland’s National under 15 squad. There is more information on how you can become one of Ali’s sponsors in the summer edition of the St Mary’s magazine or feel free to contact me.  In addition to our usual collection of children’s clothes, shoes, toys and baby equipment we are now looking for back-to-school items – pencil cases, stationery, school bags, white or pale blue polo shirts, pants, socks, vests.


I was delighted to catch up with Abby Parkhouse from Aberlour Childcare Trust, to hear how the money from our Christmas Appeal has been spent and to find out about new services which are being developed across Scotland.

To date Aberlour has distributed £1.34m from its Urgent Assistance fund helping 3,195 struggling families, directly supporting 11,000 people across Scotland. In the wider Stirlingshire area, £6,545 was awarded in the Financial year 2020, and a further £11,232.35 has been awarded between April 2021 and May 2022. The majority of the applications are from families living in poverty, as well as from single parents, people who are unemployed and parents with mental or other health issues. They have included requests for money to purchase beds, clothing, bedding, food, a cooker or oven and fridge freezers, amongst other things. Very few ask for help with utilities, as families are spending what little money they do have on their gas and electricity.

Aberlour’s  new Sustain services work with families to prevent their child or children being taken into care. These families may be affected by domestic violence, poor mental health, drug and alcohol use, unemployment, financial stress, disability and autism, housing issues or social isolation.  In Perth and Kinross and in Falkirk,  Aberlour’s  workers spend time with these families  in their homes in order to understand what they  need to thrive. They  work with the whole family to encourage the building of routines and resilience, helping parents, carers, and kinship carers to develop their ability to look after  their children, and to build their ability to engage with the community. The service also provides 24/7 emotional and practical support.

Aberlour is also  working with the Scottish Government to establish two new dedicated Mother and Child Residential Recovery Houses. The houses will be designed to enable children of women with problematic substance use to stay with their mothers as they receive treatment to help them recover from their addiction. The first house will open in Dundee in Autumn 2022. The second house located in Central Scotland will open in 2023. Each house will support four women and their children at any one time.

For more information about these projects and many others and to give regular support to Aberlour visit


And finally, I would ask for your prayers  following the huge success of the Eco Fest, bringing together many key organisations and making information about sustainable living and care for the environment available to members of our wider community. Where do we go from here with our Environmental Plan? Please pray and get in touch with your ideas.

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing you in church during the Summer.
With love