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The Licensing of our new Ministry Team

 It’s really Bishop Michael of Hertford we have to thank. The Benefice of South Mymms and Ridge has been without a Vicar since November 2018 – three and a half years almost. Since January 2021 Bishop Michael has been conscious of the lack of priestly guidance and support in these two small parishes, as indeed has Archdeacon Janet of Hertford. We have had answers to our advertisements, but no-one has been found suitable to fill the Vacancy. So by applying a bit of lateral thinking, Bishop Michael suggested that we follow up clergy who had applied for other posts in the Diocese, but who, for one reason or another, had not been appointed.

Fr. Ayoob Adwar had recently come to England, immediately from Vancouver, Canada, but originally from Iraq, via Rome. He had been a monk in a Chaldean Catholic monastery, but the atrocities of Isis made him seek refuge elsewhere. So he has had plenty of clerical experience, but little in an Anglican Diocese. Bishop Michael felt he needed to serve a curacy, rather than be appointed Vicar immediately, so there needed to be a Priest-in-Charge to help him gain this experience. Therefore, after a lengthy period of consultation, he has appointed him to our Benefice (which is temporarily suspended, as he cannot be a Vicar yet), which had a vacant clergy house (the Vicarage), with the Vicar of the next door parish (Revd. Atalie Gaines) as his – and our –  Priest-in-Charge.

They were to be licensed at the same service, but unfortunately Covid got in the way. So Revd. Atalie was licensed by the Bishop on a special Zoom service on 23rd February, and the service on Saturday 26th was Fr. Ayoob’s special day. There was the largest congregation in St. Giles since Christmas 2019, some 70 people. There were representatives from all three churches whom this new Ministry Team will  serve, as well as members of all three congregations, and there were priests and members of the congregations of most of the other Potters Bar churches, as well as from Ealing and Vancouver, churches where Fr. Ayoob had served previously.

The service was led by Bishop Michael, with the Archdeacon of Hertford, the Area Dean, and the Deanery Lay Co-chair. Simon Worley from KCM conducted the choir of singers from all three churches, to sing “Come Spirit of our God”, and Val Jones led the music from the organ.

The newly licensed Curate was welcomed by those whom he would work with, Richard Osborn, representing the Barnet Deanery, Mark Hedison (Councillor) and Natalie Gettings (Clerk) representing the Parish Council, and Linda Hedison representing the Youth and Community Association and the Village Hall. Sadly no-one was available to represent St. Giles School, due to illness. Fr. Ayoob’s wife and daughter were there to support him, and it was a wonderful opportunity for the village communities and the wider community to come together to witness this next stage in the life of the two villages and their parish churches.

At the end of the ceremony there was an opportunity for Bishop Michael to bless the recently completed restoration of the Frowyk Chapel, which has been a building site for the last few years. Now expertly restored, it is back in use, and, thanks to the Bishop, enthusiastically blessed. When Bishop Michael takes a service he does it with great enthusiasm! There was applause and three cheers for the newly licensed priests, and he finished off with going outside to bless the wider parish with a joyful shout.

No service like this would be complete without refreshments and, from the village, Wendy Hunt did us proud. It was clearly a case of feeding the Five Thousand, and as at Lake Galilee, after it was over they gathered up twelve basketfuls (so to speak). So now the churches are under proper leadership, do come along and try them out. Fr. Ayoob will preside over most of the services, but on 4th Sundays, Revd. Atalie or David Thomson will come over, while Fr. Ayoob takes services at KCM. This is going to be exciting!


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Joan Phyllis Chesher was born in South Mimms on 20th February, 1938.   She lived almost all her life in South Mimms and was one of its longest residents.

Joan went to St Giles School until she was nine and then moved to Ladbrooke School in order to support her younger brother, David, who had some learning difficulties.  Joan cared for him for many years.  Joan was a bright student who gained a place at Glendale Grammar School in Wood Green.  She remained there until she was sixteen.  Following secondary education, Joan decided to become a teacher and attended Teacher Training College in Scarborough for two years.  It was here that she made some life-long friends.

At the age of 18, Joan travelled alone to Africa for six weeks, flying to Kenya and on to Victoria Falls; she then took a train to Mombasa.  From there she flew to Zambia and Lusaka, which was no mean feat at such a young age, however, it was typical of Joan’s spirit of adventure. On her return from Africa, Joan took up a teaching post at Ladbrooke School for two years, which was followed by five more years at Sunnybank School.

Joan had a keen interest in working with children with special educational needs so decided to take a specialist course at London University.  Following her graduation, she took up a teaching and house mistress post in Swanley, Kent, where she cared, day and night, for eight children with varying disabilities.  She always spoke fondly of her time there.  It was also here that she developed her love of swimming and badminton.

During this time, she met David in Battersea at a musical evening.  They fell in love and were married on Oak Apple Day on 29th May, 1971.  With this day in mind, her wedding bouquet was made from oak apples, white nettles and oak leaves.  Her page boy said that he saw a caterpillar crawling on it, which became a story she often told. Joan and David returned to South Mimms and bought a house next to her parents and brother.  She took up a position as class teacher at Meryfield Primary School in Borehamwood and remained there for ten years until she retired.

Joan loved South Mimms and over the years she took an active role in both St Giles and St Margaret’s Church.   In 2007 she became Churchwarden at St. Margaret’s, until 2016. She was an experienced bell ringer  and in 1989 she became the Tower Captain. Joan and David were accomplished bell ringers and taught bell ringing to many local children.  They raised funds to buy three more bells for St. Margaret’s so it now has a peal of 6. With their passion of bell ringing, they attended events across England and entertained parishioners with their hand bell skills.

Following the loss of her parents Joan continued to care for her brother until his death.  Sadly, Joan and David were not blessed with children but instead they decided to become foster parents.  They fostered two boys, Keith and Andrew, who were with them for some time. Joan and David loved to travel and meet new people and see as much of the countryside as they could, so they decided to buy a camper van.  They loved their van and were seen regularly packing it up and heading for a new destination.  This continued until David became unwell and sadly died in 2008.

Despite the loss of David, Joan continued with her beloved gardening and swimming until she became incapacitated. She reluctantly hired a gardener but still loved to potter in her garden.  She was blessed with good friends and neighbours, particularly Pam and Bob.  She loved to see her neighbour’s children and was always up to date with all the comings and goings of village life.  She was always a fount of information on South Mimms and Ridge both past and present and could talk for hours about her life growing up and how the village had changed over the years. She will be dearly missed.


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 In my little article in the Christmas issue of our magazine I wrote about an Army Officer who went back, under enemy fire, to try and rescue any soldiers that had not managed to get on a ship  during the British Army evacuation from Dunkirk. That man, Earl Alexander of Tunis, is buried together with his wife Margaret in St Margaret’s churchyard. As I was typing that piece I kept wondering why he chose our Churchyard?. What was his connection to Ridge? My curiosity led me to view the life of an extraordinary man.

Alexander was born in London, the third son of Lord Caledon, a Scots/Irish aristocratic family who had and have substantial land interests in Northern Ireland and in the Parish of Ridge. The family’s main residence was in Ireland but their English country house was Tyttenhanger. Lord Caledon was the patron of St Margaret’s and the family worshipped there.

He was educated at Harrow public school, spending weekends and many holidays at Tyttenhanger staying there with an Aunt, after his family began to spend more time on their Irish estates. He was a very athletic young man and played in the Harrow School first eleven cricket team against the likes of Eton at Lords. It was whilst at Harrow, he decided that a career in the Army was for him.

When he left Harrow he went to Sandhurst Military College for officer training. On completion of his training he immediately joined the Irish guards. This was in 1911 and of course in three short years WW1 started. His regiment was sent to France. I got the impression when I was researching his history that he couldn’t wait to get involved in the action. His bravery and leadership skills were legendary. He led from the front, never asking his men to do anything that he wasn’t prepared to do himself. He was wounded and sent back to England and could have quite legitimately have stayed here, but, as soon as he was fit, he went back to rejoin his regiment.

The details of the many battles he was involved in during his long army career through two world wars and military campaigns in the Balkans between the wars would fill this Magazine. Suffice  to say that he commenced his career as a 2nd lieutenant and ended it as a Field Marshal earning many mentions in dispatches and medals including the Military Cross and Distinguished Service Cross. In addition to his army career he held several high offices including being an aide-de-camp (personal assistant and confidante) to King George VI. It was

in this role that he was given the task of organising the King’s Coronation in 1937. He was later to receive a knighthood from the King for the excellent work he did for that event.

He retired from the military after WW2 and at the specific request of the Government was appointed Governor General of Canada. He was a very popular man with the Canadians continually travelling to all parts of that vast country. He held that position from 1946 until 1952 when Winston Churchill bought him back to be Minister of Defence in his post war government.

He kept that position until he retired and in retirement spent many holidays revisiting Canada, where, together with his wife, they travelled extensively indulging in their passion for the Canadian wilderness and fishing.

He died in 1969 and had a full Military Funeral in Windsor and at his request was buried in St Margaret’s Churchyard. Should you wish to visit his grave, it’s a large almost flat white stone on the right as you enter the Churchyard from the Village Hall gate.

Doug Ryan