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Our newsletter, Tidings, is published 10 times a year to be available at the beginning of each month but, to give the editor a break, there are no January or August editions.  It is circulated to members and friends of three churches, namely Longbenton Methodist Church, West Moor Methodist Church and St. Andrew's Church (Methodist and United Reformed) at a cost of 40 p a copy.   Rev. Janet Jackson is the minister for Longbenton and Rev. Gavin Hume is the minister for the other two churches.

Here are some items from the March 2020 issue, beginning with a letter from Gavin.

Dear Friends,

Most people who run marathons will at some stage have experienced what is known as ‘hitting the wall’, a point in the race, usually after about 20 miles or so, where they suddenly seem to run out of energy. One runner describes the experience like this: “It felt like an elephant had jumped out of a tree onto my shoulders and was making me carry it the rest of the way”.

It’s caused by the glycogen levels in the liver and muscles becoming depleted, but after a rest and a carbohydrate-rich drink most runners, if they are determined enough, can get through the wall and continue running, although perhaps at a slower pace. But it is important for runners to know that this experience is quite common, and to be expected.

During this season of Lent, we will be reminded that Jesus was on the road towards the cross, and that he frequently warned his disciples of the struggles that lay ahead, even if they couldn’t yet understand what he was trying to tell them. It is important that in our discipleship we hear the warning from Jesus that our road will not always be easy, so that we are prepared for those times when it feels like we have “hit the wall”. Are we prepared to choose the hard road of following Jesus this Lent?

To speak up, when it would be easier to keep silent. To get involved, when it would be easier to ignore the needs around us. To choose to be kind and forgiving and compassionate, even when we feel hurt. To overcome evil with good and to overcome hate with love is not the easy road.

But that is the road that Jesus chose, all the way to the cross.

May we be blessed in knowing that Jesus walks with us now, in the midst of whatever we may be going through, bringing us joy in the midst of the struggles, and strengthening us when we feel weak.

Yours in Christ,


A note from Janet

Dear Friends

I am sorry but I am unable to send a letter for “Tidings” this month. I am having great trouble with my vision after my cataract operation.

God bless you all.


Your minister – that means “servant”.


News of our Church Family

We were delighted to hear that Sarah Daun had a baby boy on January 2. His name is Alexander. Congratulations to Sarah, Stuart and big sister Rebecca. God bless you all!

We congratulate Cliff and Val Targar, who celebrated their Golden Wedding on January 26. God give you many more years of happiness together!

We were sorry to hear of the death, on January 23, of Ken Adamson, aged 92. He and his wife, Mary, were members of the United Reformed Church in Heaton, which is now part of St. Cuthbert’s. While they were well enough they both came to Wednesday Pop-In Coffee at Benton and Mary came to Network. Ken cared for Mary in her illness until mid-December 2019, when he was taken into hospital. Mary went into a nursing home on Killingworth Road, where Ken joined her for the last two weeks of his life. We offer her and their two sons our love and the assurance of our prayers.

We also send our condolences to John Courtney on the death of his father and to Jim Cook on the death of his son. May God comfort you..

Congratulations to John Forrest, a member of Jesmond United Reformed Church and also of our evening congregation, who was 80 on February 2.

More good news! Pauline Oliver has a new grandchild and Brenda Todd a new

great-great-grandchild. We thank Pauline for the extra flowers in the foyer and Brenda for the cake she shared with us on February 9.

First Saturday Coffee Morning – 10 - 11.30 a.m. February 1

 It was good to be back for our usual coffee morning at the beginning of February and everyone seemed to enjoy chatting with friends. Many thanks to everyone who helped to raise £230.31 of which £230 was sent to the Alzheimer’s Society. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in the Liddell Hall on the first Saturday in March when we hope to raise funds for Corner Club. You will be made most welcome.                                                                                          Jean Green

General Church Meeting - February 8th

We were asked to pray for Christians Against Poverty at Killingworth. Their manager has retired, and a replacement has not yet come forward. In the mean time no new clients can be taken on, but existing clients still need our help with non-perishable food and donations towards perishable food.

The Leadership Group reported that hungry visitors to the church are given bags of non-perishable food and/or Greggs vouchers. The supply is paid for out of the Benevolence Fund. One former recipient has recently returned and handed over a bag of newly-bought food he wished to add to the church’s store.

The Leadership Group is to be replaced with an Outreach Group, with meetings to plan specific practical actions to benefit our community. Its February 20 (1.30 p.m.) meeting will plan our outreach at Easter. Each meeting of this group will be advertised and be open to all who wish to be involved in the particular action being planned.

The Pastoral Committee reviewed the church community roll. We now have 98 church members.

The Treasurer, Richard Ward, explained that since lettings of rooms have dropped it looks as if we shall have to dip into our reserves this year. If anyone can increase their giving, that would be very welcome.

The Property Secretary reported that the loft above the Liddell Hall has been partly boarded so that electricians will be able to work there in safety.

Andrew and Shirley Thomas will join the Vestry Stewards. We still need another representative to the Circuit Meeting on the retirement of Hazel Hoggett, whom we thank for her service.                    

So What's the Story? (Part 1)                  Neil Murray, dictating in 1990.  Neil is one of our wheel-chair bound members.

If anybody had told me ten years ago that I would be able to compile this account I would not have believed them. However, thanks to Nick Rowe’s encouragement and all the counselling I have participated in with Skills for People during the last few years, my confidence has developed enormously. All my life I have been on the “receiving end”. At last I feel, by writing this account, I am able to give a little back in return.

I was born in 1932. My mother had a hard labour with me. No one knew at first that I had cerebral palsy: it must have been hard for my parents to learn this. After I was born, they were told not to have any more children.

My first memory is of my Mum and Dad taking me to Newcastle to see the Christmas shops. It was vastly different from what Newcastle is now, but I still say there was more happiness in those days. I can just remember being in the toy departments of Binns and Bainbridges and I remember sitting on Santa Claus’s knee. When we came home, I remember my grandad cutting up this wood with a toy saw I had got from Santa Claus – it took him about ten minutes to cut through a little piece of wood! At that time I was mad on Hornby trains and I loved to be taken into Binns to see the trains going round and round.

I got a pedal car in Binns one year. I shall never forget that car! My auntie bought it for me – it cost £7, and that was quite a lot of money in those days. I got more pleasure out of that car than anything else. My Mum used to take me out in it. It had battery operated lights and a little boot at the back, indicators and a horn. My Dad made holes in the dashboard so that I could get my legs through as I got bigger. People used to say that I looked perfectly physically normal when I was in the car and that was a good thing for me to hear. I got use out of that car until I was about 13 and then one day I found I could not pedal it any more.

One of my earliest and happiest memories was of a family friend called Harvey, whom we knew through our Chapel. Harvey used to come and help Dad to bath me when my mother was in hospital for a gallstones operation. We had really riotous evenings. He would put bubble bath in the bath and with my athetoid movements the bubble bath would go everywhere. It was great fun and he didn’t mind at all.

My Mum and Dad were two of the best people in the world, and that’s not being daft. Dad worked in an insurance office in Newcastle. My Mum was one of the best mothers in the world; I had a home second to none. She went all over the country to try and get me put right. She was always a hard worker, not only for me, but also for our local Spastics Society. She was a woman of great faith and that brought her through. My parents were very upset at times about what would happen to me in later life. We would talk about that. They didn’t say much, but I could tell that they were worried. They tried to implant in me that everything had a purpose and that is how I believe it now. They used to say to me, “Neil, you are handicapped, but it is not the end of the world; you could have been far worse.” They were right, of course. They treated me like a normal person.

I never attended school and no-one from the Education Authority ever came to find out why I was not there. My auntie, who was a teacher, taught me to read. She painted letters of the alphabet on square tiles with pictures on the other side. I found learning to read very easy. Another teacher came to teach me arithmetic but she didn’t give me enough time to work out the answers. I realised that because I never experienced school life I was deprived of social interactions with my peer group. When I played out in the street in my car, the other children were frightened of me and my jerky unwanted movements. They were unable to understand my indistinct speech. Strangely, I do not remember being upset by their unfriendliness.

When I was 7 my grandfather died and I began to take fits. I became more athetoid (having unwanted movements) and these movements got worse. When I was 13 the local doctor put me to bed because I had had an operation for appendicitis. I was in bed for three years until another doctor told me to sit up in a chair at once! In 1953 a doctor and a physiotherapist came to see me and that was when I knew for certain that I would never walk. When the Percy Hedley School opened my mother took me there twice a week for physiotherapy, but they said it was too late, in my case, to do any good. In 1959 we saw an orthopaedic surgeon called Mr. Hankinson. Dr. Ellis wanted me to see him because he thought brain surgery might help my unwanted movements. We also saw a neurologist called John Walton. Incidentally, that day I got the surprise of my life because Professor Walton asked Dr. Ellis what my I.Q. was and he said “Between 140 and 150.”

In 1959 I had a leucotomy operation, that is where they burn the damaged part of the brain away, and for seven weeks after that I could sit as still as you are sitting now. Then one morning I woke up and the movement had returned. It wasn’t so bad, though. After that operation, I was still able to remember what happened long ago, but if you asked me what I had for dinner that day I couldn’t tell you. I still think the operation was worthwhile, but it was very disappointing. I had a second operation far too early – at Easter 1960. This one too affected my memory.

Through my life I have had a number of very special friends who have been a great joy and support to me. I have mentioned Harvey earlier. He has been a friend all my life. Together with his wife, Nancy, he has done a great deal for me since my Dad died. Only last week when he was here I for some reason felt “down”, but before he left I felt elated again.

I met Pat at the Red Cross Holiday Home at Bridlington in about 1978. She invited me to go for long weekends to her home in Clayton West, near Huddersfield. I used to go by train from Newcastle to York and then I had to change. Those journeys were quite horrific. I had to travel in the guard’s van, which was very cold. Pat was a great one for going away on holiday to the West Country, and we used to go to Llandudno every Christmas. Pat is in a wheelchair herself. She is a great Methodist and nothing ever gets her down. I still get tapes from her, but she is now too poorly for me to visit her. She is a marvellous friend in the way she tries to live her life as normally as possible.

Alistair and his wife, Margaret, are also great friends. They have added another dimension to my life and I cannot express all the gratitude that I feel towards them. We go to concerts together, and it was they who introduced me to Alistair’s sister, Audrey.

I am very grateful to Audrey: she has added something very special to my life. I remember one of our walks in Jesmond Dene. We went up a rather steep slope and got stuck half way up. Had it not been for some quite small children, we might have been there yet. One of the boys who helped to pull my chair up the uneven hill said, “If this man would get out of the chair, it would make things a lot easier!” He was only about five years old.

To be continued in our April magazine.