St Michael & All Angels, Marden, Kent

Sharing God's Love

June Magazine

Welcome to our second ‘virtual’ magazine, which we hope you will enjoy. Do please tell others about it, as they may be out of contact with the wider community. Obviously, there is not much going on at present, but we do have some interesting news and articles, both from the church perspective, and from other groups in and around the village.
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So, enjoy the read …


Dear friends,

Yet another ”Not from the Vicarage” letter, although you will be pleased to know that the advert for a new vicar is out and we are planning to move forward with any applications, within the confines of Covid-19.

Thank you for all your support of each other in the village and as you are always interested in what is happening in the village we thought that this would be an opportunity for us to update you.

When it became obvious that face-to-face work with the youth in the village was no longer going to be possible, and that there was a need for a foodbank, Kathy, our Youth and Children’s minister, was officially asked to take on the task of setting this up. It was started in the Children’s Centre, but that was soon closed and all the goods were moved into the Parish Council buildings, but only for a day as that building was also closed. Fortunately the School was going to remain open for the duration of the pandemic, to look after the pupils of parents who are key workers, so they kindly offered to host the foodbank. The co-operation and support of the School, the Parish Council, the Village Club and all the local shops has been excellent, both practically and financially. Kathy has also received help from Brakes who were already delivering to the School and who offered a discount for goods delivered to the foodbank.

Kathy is now very busy – ordering, shopping, collecting donations, sorting donations, making up parcels, delivering parcels, prescription collecting and dropping off and looking after the food bank generally in the entrance to the school. She has built links with Goudhurst Church who are doing similar work in conjunction with Fairshare, and is able to distribute some fresh food at the beginning of the week. 40 families a week are now benefitting from this initiative, they have been sent by the surgery, the school and through social workers – the need is there.

When the school is back working normally, obviously there will be no room there, but the Parish Council has already said that the goods can be moved into the John Banks Hall as a temporary measure, but they are actively looking for a suitable space within in the village to permanently house the food bank in the future. Which is very good news.

Jane, our treasurer, agreed that the Church bank accounts could be used to manage the donations and she has reported that so far we have received a total of £11,500 in donations, £6,250 via the Parish Council (through grants and individuals), £1,200 from the Village Club, and the balance from individual donations through the Church. Many of these donations have been anonymous so we would like to take this opportunity to say a heartfelt thankyou from all those who have benefitted from this initiative, £4,300 had already been spent by the beginning of May.

Further afield than Marden, we have been kept in touch with the Church of England as a whole by a series of Zoom meetings with senior clergy and Bishop Rose. The main topics that have been discussed are the effects of the lockdown and the good things that have come out of it, the impact on clergy and their wellbeing, and planning for the way forward.

The general consensus of opinion was that online and Zoom services have provided a much needed link for parishes to worship and study together, and a major benefit has been the large numbers attracted to these events. The clergy are finding this a stressful time not being able to carry out their pastoral duties, especially with regard to funerals.

The House of Bishops have come up with a three point suggested programme as to the way forward.

    1. An initial immediate phase allowing very limited access to church buildings for activities such as streaming services so long as the necessary hygiene and social distancing precautions are taken.

    2. Subsequently, access for some rites and ceremonies when allowed by law observing appropriate social distancing and hygiene precautions.

    3. Worship services with limited congregations meeting when Government restrictions are eased to allow this.

These are only suggestions, and it will be up to individual parishes to ensure that all cleanliness and hygiene measures are strictly adhered to. For some this will be harder than for others.

Thank you again for all your kindness and support.
Carol and Graham

PS And a big thanks to Charlie Cox who has been kindly looking after the Vicarage garden while he has been on furlough from the Army.



ZoomOver these last months we have all been suffering from the enforced lockdown and social distancing, and many of us have really missed getting together at church, and at other social organisations. But certainly, as far as the church is concerned, the apparent set-back has actually inspired people to develop new ways of contacting and of serving the community.

You may have seen on the news, or in other places, that many churches, and our own Canterbury Cathedral, are streaming Sunday services, often through the well-known YouTube channel on our computers. Having been a little involved with one of Goudhurst’s streamed services, I have discovered how much time and energy such enterprises involve – far more work than an ordinary Sunday service in church! People are learning to write scripts, become cameramen (or women), edit videos, merge singers and musicians from multiple sources, and then stick it all up into the internet.

I’ve just been reading some statistics, and it seems that the numbers of people watching these on-line services is far greater than the number who attended churches in former days. Whereas somewhere between 5 and 7% of British people normally went to church, a staggering 24% have looked in on streamed services according to a recent Tearfund survey. Perhaps people feel more relaxed watching things from the comfort of their own homes, than from a hard pew in a cold church!

But smaller churches like ours, though we have far less technical expertise, have still been making advances in doing things in different ways, and one of these has been in something called ‘Zoom’. This is a small program or ‘app’ that can be loaded into a computer, laptop, tablet or even smartphone – and through it, whole groups of people can see and hear each other.

Here in Marden we are using it for a Sunday evening service, a Saturday morning prayer meeting, a Wednesday afternoon Bible reflection, and a Tuesday house group. If you would like to sample one of these, just contact our Reader, Sarah Emanuel by email, and she will send you more details.

Once you have the software loaded, you click on the invitation you will be sent – making sure that both your microphone and camera are switched on and pointed in the right direction. And voila! You can all see and hear each other!

Zoom screen 

And an even more creative Zoom meeting is that the Friday morning Village Café in the Vestry Hall has also been re-invented as a Zoom meeting. Of course, you now need to make your own coffee and cake, but you can enjoy meeting friends and having a chat!

As well as using Zoom, we have also moved the magazine temporarily to this on-line format, and are publishing a Bible passage and reflection for each Sunday which seems to be having around 70 readers each week.

So, it seems that church is not restricted by this dreadful C-19 virus, but actually flourishing in new ways, and seeking to bring hope and peace to our lovely community.
Stephen Hardy

Sarah, one of the church’s ministry team, has started putting a short weekly service, filmed from inside church, on the Marden Parish Church facebook page.

Coffee and cake


One of the things that has been so noticeable over the past weeks, is the stunningly beautiful spring time we are enjoying. The deep blue skies framing vibrant blossom have been such a joy to behold on our daily walks. Not forgetting the burgeoning life in our gardens ... fragrant wisteria and lily of the valley alongside geraniums, pinks and lavender, and baby birds growing more demanding every day! Sights, sounds and smells of spring have all seemed extra precious this year.

And maybe that has led to a feeling of deep gratitude for what we still have and can still enjoy, in a time when it feels much has been taken from us. The Bible encourages us to thank and praise God at all times - and research corroborates this as it shows gratitude and thankfulness are good for our mental health. So let’s see each day as a new gift, and look for even the small things to rejoice in and thank God for.

Here’s the beginning of a prayer you might like to use and continue ...
Thank you, Lord, for blue skies, abundant blossom and beautiful birdsong. Thank you for people who care. Thank you for laughter. Thank you for family and friends. Thank you for our NHS. Thank you for shopkeepers and postmen ... thank you for your love seen in so many ways.

Lesley Hardy

Cherry blossom


Alzheimer’s Society

Kate Lee CEO of Alzheimer’s Society writes:
Alzheimers“Living with dementia at any time brings challenges for those with the condition and the people close to them.  Many face stigma and isolation in everyday life, and Covid-19 is making things much harder.  Now more than ever, it is important that they get the help and support they need.”

Many carers will be self isolating with a person living with dementia, or trying to care for someone without physical contact.  Day care centres have had to close and support in the home may have stopped.  We cannot run our own Living Memories group in Marden. Rachel and others have been contacting the members often, but that is not the same as the happy and relaxed meetings in the Vestry Hall.

This is happening at a time when Alzheimer’s Society, along with so many other similar charities, is suffering from a greatly reduced income. Fundraising events have been cancelled.  This June there will be no Strawberry Tea in the garden of Rosemary and Steve. Many people are suffering loss of earnings or financial uncertainty, and understandably must reduce their charitable giving.

However many of us are fortunate to be receiving good steady incomes, as usual, and are actually finding we have saved money in the last two months, because we have not been going out to spend in restaurants and on our usual entertainments. So perhaps we who are so blessed can give extra generously this June either through the church treasurer or directly to Alzheimer’s Society.
Janet McIntosh

Even though no fund-raising activities are able to be arranged, do, please, consider a donation via the church treasurer, Jane Lowther. 

And a few tips that may be useful:
Keeping active and purposeful when staying at home will fight off boredom and frustration. It may also help a person living with dementia retain skills and independence for longer. If somebody you are supporting tells you they are struggling to stay occupied, there are lots of activities you can suggest:

■ If the person enjoys music, the website BBC Music Memories can help people with dementia reconnect with their most powerful memories
■ If the person has a garden, you could encourage them to get outside – they could plant some seeds and look forward to seeing them grow’

■ ‘Love to Move’ is a seated gymnastics programme for people living with dementia. You can download a pack from their website to try activities at home
■ Puzzles and games that keep the mind active and engaged can be helpful, and a good distraction from the news. The Alzheimer’s Society online shop has a variety of products specifically for people with dementia

■ You can create home versions of somebody’s favourite sports, like ten pin bowling with plastic bottles, or using rolled up socks to play indoor bowls.


You are invited to the Virtual AGM of Marden Patient Participation Group 2020
at 6 pm on Thursday June 25th.
Details of how to participate will be posted on the Medical Centre’s Facebook page, Web site, and the PPG web site.


You may have noticed that we have not been able to include advertisements in this virtual magazine, but we strongly encourage readers to support our local businesses, many of which are opening up carefully. You can access all the adverts here.


We are grateful to Peter Hall for sending us a copy of the 4th Annual Report on Birds and Conservation at H E Hall Farms, from which this has been extracted:

The family business of H E Hall and Son Ltd has been farming in Marden for over a hundred years and now operates on six separate sites around the village. The farms produce a mixture of organic and conventionally farmed fruit, arable crops, and grapes for sparkling wine.

Wildlife and conservation also enjoy pride of place. A mixture of natural habitats is created around the farms with substantial areas devoted entirely to conservation. Arable areas are managed sympathetically for wildlife so that native plants, insects and birds continue to exist alongside the production of food. Particular crops are planted specifically to provide food for birds throughout the winter when natural supplies are depleted.

As surrounding landowners make space for nature too, the Marden area boasts significant numbers of red-listed farmland and other birds. Thanks to the efforts of volunteers, other nationally scarce or declining wildlife is being steadily identified and encouraged to thrive in our hedgerows and field margins.”

The Report refers to various strategies to encourage wildlife:

For many years our farms have been managed under various Countryside Stewardship schemes. Hedge planting and laying, tree planting, sympathetic pond and waterway re-creation, all on a ‘landscape’ scale have created a rich and varied habitat over almost 400 profitably farmed acres.

More recently under The Higher Level Stewardship Scheme, we have planted annual and biennial seed mixes specifically tailored to sustain pollinating and other beneficial insects in the summer and provide a wealth of winter bird food.

The report then goes on to speak about birds being recorded, and some ringed, by the British Trust for Ornithology.

There are many immovable features around the village in the form of rivers, drains and ditches which criss-cross the flood plain and link the innumerable ponds. So fields have generally remained small – a patchwork of varied habitat, its spinneys and shores linked by species-rich hedgerows that have evolved over many hundreds of years and are typical of The Low Weald. It is exactly this landscape-scale habitat that is critically important to the breeding success of the birds we feed in large flocks through the winter, as they spread out in the spring to find suitable nesting sites, usually within 4–5 kilometres.

Marden is sited on a key floodplain, vital for retaining water to prevent downstream flooding of the River Medway. Wildlife benefitted, therefore, when construction of a wetland for flood management was completed at Christmas 2018. Although regeneration of surrounding vegetation is a slow process on the poor soil, water plants are colonising the lake and its banks, insects are arriving followed by fish, frogs, newts and the birds that feed on all of them. An early September evening witnessed a splendid spectacle of Daubenton’s bats caught in torchlight as they careered up and down the length of the lake scooping up their insect prey.

The Report refers to engagement with various local groups, with school pupils, with youngsters taking part in D of E award projects, and university students taking part in specific studies.

The Report gives us an impressive list of 100 species of birds that have been sighted around the area, including: Barn owls, Common sandpipers, Cormorants, Geese (3 species), Green sandpipers, Grey herons, Grey wagtails, Gulls, Hobbies, House martins, Kingfishers, Linnets, Little Egrets, Little grebes, Mallards, Mandarin ducks, Moorhens, Nightingales, Ospreys, Reed buntings, Reed warblers, Swallows, Swifts, Turtle doves, and Yellowhammers

For insect life, they include the following: Bumble bees, Butterflies (20 species), Blue-tailed damselflies, Dragonflies, Hornets, and Moths (38 species). And just for completeness, they mention a few mammals: American mink (which is a predatory pest), Bats (7 species), Dormice, and Harvest mice

As well as birds, animals and insects, the Report also makes brief mention of 73 species of fungi, 218 species of plants, with more probably still to be identified,

So, if you are going out on exercise walks, do keep an eye open for the enormous variety of life that surrounds our village.


Photo: Darren Nicholls


As I write, some of the lockdown restrictions are being lifted, and some of the shops will now be opening again. It’s good that people can return to their jobs in retail….but perhaps something has changed. What have you discovered about your shopping habits, during the lockdown?

Have you realised that shopping has been something you just ‘do’, without thinking about it? Have you been able to discover great ethical brands online, when your favourite shops have been shut? Or have you been rediscovering an ability to ‘make do and mend’? Our planet needs us to consume less, so being able to reuse/repurpose items is good for our purses, and the world we live in.

Many people have been baking instead of buying bread, sewing on buttons instead of throwing things away and finding that crafts with old cardboard boxes and kitchen roll tubes can be just as satisfying as those done with specially-bought plastic components.

Let’s give some prayerful thought to those changes we’ve made due to the shops being shut, and how we can continue to live in a more ‘Eco Friendly’ way once the shopping centres are open again. Our Eco Church initiative is run under the guidelines of an organisation called A Rocha. You can discover more about them at
Amanda Abbitt



Our WI was founded in 1926, 11 years after the very first institute was formed in Britain. In June 2015 there was a very special annual meeting at the Royal Albert Hall, attended by HRH Queen Elizabeth and I was lucky enough to be there. To hear 5000 ladies singing ‘Jerusalem’ is something I shall never forget.

In 2016 Marden ladies celebrated our 90th anniversary, with a village event and a lovely afternoon tea at Fraser’s. We all hope to be here for our centenary in 2026!
Jean Robertson President



Members are keeping in touch with each other and swopping ideas on projects – also enjoying the TV programmes such as The Joy of Painting or Grayson Perry. Everyone is looking forward to resuming the Thursday afternoon sessions in the Vestry Hall – this week it looks as if some of the stringent measures will start to be relaxed. So, keep well everyone.
Mo Clayton


Well, we all have lots more gardening time available at the moment which is fantastic, and as I look outside, there is some welcome rain falling. Apart from general pottering and enjoying coffee, tea etc in the garden, here are some jobs to be getting on with outside this month:-

1.   Continue growing salad crops, eg beetroot, lettuce & radish
2.   Sow French, runner & broad beans, peas, squash & sweetcorn directly into prepared beds
3.   Courgettes & pumpkins can still be sown outdoors in early June
4.   Look out for blight on tomatoes & potatoes
5.   Plant out peppers when all risk of frost has passed
6.   Water tomatoes & peppers regularly to prevent blossom end rot.

Sadly our annual Plant Sale had to be cancelled this year, but depending on the situation we may be able to organise something later in the year. Watch this space...
Alison Ball


Unfortunately, activities at the club, as at all sports clubs, came to an abrupt end in mid-March. This meant that the Short Mat season could not be completed, and has postponed the start of the outdoor season.

The Club again had a full list of fixtures planned for the summer. Kent were once again using Marden, with its excellent green and facilities, to play their Middleton Cup matches, but sadly now this is not possible. We have three or four dedicated members who are maintaining the green, obviously observing government rules on social distancing, as it is vitally important that this work is done otherwise nature would take over and the green lost for future use.

Ironically our Open Day, which is often met with inclement weather, this year would have been on 25th April with temperatures in the 20's, but we were all isolated in our gardens.

Looking to the future, the Club will only open when restrictions are lifted and then when members feel safe to return. Members have paid a small subscription and are supporting a fund-raising activity so that sufficient funds are maintained for re-opening. If we cannot return this year, then next year will be a double celebration when we return after the virus but more importantly 2021 marks our 50th anniversary.

We are always seeking new members, so whilst you ponder on what you will do when the world returns to normality, why not consider joining a club with one of the best greens in the area and good social facilities. You would be made very welcome.
For more details telephone 07801 594147, email
visit our Facebook Page, or website
Brian Cooper


At a time when Maidstone Day Centre is temporarily closed, our staff and volunteers are working behind the scenes to support the homeless and vulnerable.

We are joining with the Salvation Army to provide food for those particularly vulnerable people in our town. We are tremendously grateful to the supermarkets, churches, local businesses and individuals who are continuing to donate food items to our food bank, Food for Thought. We are very aware that we couldn’t do any of this without our staff and volunteers who are continuing to come to work, collecting and sorting donations then packing and delivering the food parcels, so our thanks to each one.

Our resettlement staff are mindful of the anxieties suffered by some of our clients and residents and are keeping in touch daily to offer reassurance and support.

Two ‘Case Studies’.

Jack: In 2018 after several years on the streets, Jack moved into our halfway house. It was such a massive change to his lifestyle that for the first two weeks he was unable to sleep in a bed, choosing to spend the night lying on the floor. Soon though, with newfound feelings of security, he started to tackle his drinking problem. He was making good progress, until earlier this year when Covid-19 restrictions started to take effect, causing his anxieties to resurface again. Being cooped up all day with the other residents caused petty disputes between them all, and Jack started to spend more time isolated in his room. His support worker recognised his growing tension and encouraged him to try to switch off and find a calmer space by listening to music. During these quiet times he reflected that he really wanted to make changes in his life. He has now applied for a place in a detox unit and, after many years, has made contact with his family. He said: “I am at last making changes in my life. The worry of Covid-19 has made me realise how important family is, but it is very hard not knowing when you will see them again.”

Baz: For the past 18 years, Baz had been part of a small community of rough sleepers, living in a wood. Over this time he suffered from severe depression and at times suicidal thoughts; most of his problems had been influenced by his upbringing and his relationship with his mother. His lifeline over those difficult times had been the support he received from the Salvation Army where he became a regular volunteer. Last year, after so long sleeping out, his physical health started to deteriorate and he was suffering severe pain in his back and legs, he was getting older and needed warmth and rest. Over the years we had known him, Baz had never asked for help and had always been fiercely independent; he was the one to offer help to other people. He had regularly volunteered at Maidstone Day Centre and this had helped him not to feel so isolated. At last, in December, after many attempts to help him, he accepted the offer of a place in our halfway house. Baz adjusted well, even allowing our support workers to register him with a doctor and community nurse. That was until Covid-19 restrictions kicked in and instead of being out and about, helping and interacting with people, he was stuck between four walls and was finding it very difficult to cope. His earlier enthusiasm for life had gone. He refused any doctor’s appointments, wouldn’t discuss his problems with our mental health specialist and wasn’t interested in helping with the gardening, something he would have jumped at before. We know that better times will come, but Baz can’t see that at the moment. All we can do is to be there waiting until he is ready to accept our help.


It is no surprise that, with the UN disclosing that an average of 80,000 new cases of Covid-19 were reported every day during April, world attention is focused on this deadly virus. Once Covid is under control, governments around the world will be dealing with the economic meltdown which is forecast to follow. As a result, we are all preoccupied, and Climate Change has dropped down the global agenda – but melting ice caps, extreme weather events, droughts and record high temperatures won’t go away.

The virus is a massive threat but we can expect it to be brought under control in what is, relatively speaking, a remarkably short time. That is not the case for Climate Change, the problem has been building up for years. There is remarkable irony in the fact that a virus has resulted in a notable reduction in pollution levels due to reduced air travel and restricted use of cars. People speak of the air being cleaner, the stars brighter and engine noise minimal.

World governments are, rightly, spending huge sums of money dealing with Covid-19, but it is concerning that investment in renewable energy solutions is still insufficient. Following the severe global economic crisis that began in 2008, carbon emissions decreased in virtually every part of the world. Once economic recovery got underway, countries vied to excel and pollution levels shot up. Is there any way that, post-Covid, the world could do better?
Pat Crawford
Rural Focus Press Group

Climate change

EPILOGUE – A little bit of philosophy!

One of the consequences of having been kept home for so long is that now there is not a weed to be seen in our garden, and all those photos that go back for over a century are now sorted into bundles by family – except, that is, the pictures of an unknown couple of people that nobody seems to recognise. Are they family? Or friends? Or was there photo-bombing 100 years ago?

Just for fun, here’s a photo of my grandfather in 1924 from the magazine ‘The Motor Cycle’. He invented a trailer to tow behind his motorcycle and sidecar – which I’m sure would not be allowed on the roads today! The trailer actually folds out into a camping tent, and together they travelled Britain. That’s my Dad, whom some of you knew, as a little boy in the front of the sidecar!


Looking at long departed family members is a thought-provoking experience, for it reminds us that we are all mortal, and our time will also come. Add to that the daily mortality figures issued by the government, and it does make one stop and think about life and death, and whether there is anything beyond this existence.

Personally I’ve always believed that there must be a God, as I see so much beauty, variety and creativity in this world that I cannot possibly accept that it has all happened by accident. The traditional philosophical argument for this is called Paley’s watch*. If we were to stumble on a watch, telling the correct time, lying on the ground, would we be more likely to assume that it came about by accident, or that someone made the watch and then left it there?

Of course I realize that people have various views on the existence of God, ranging from convinced Christians such as myself, through Agnostics (those who say they don’t know, which is a respectable view to have) to Atheists (who say there is no God). I must admit I find that last position rather arrogant, as it claims to know everything, and for some has become a passionate ‘crusade’ against all believers. Why they take that stance I have no idea – I don’t believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden, but I don’t bother to go on about it!

Another argument from philosophy (which I studied nearly 50 years ago now, but is one of the few thoughts that has stayed with me). It’s called Pascal’s Wager**. Basically, it starts with two possibilities – that there is a God, or there is not a God. It then goes on to suggest that we need to live our lives on the assumption that one or the other must be true – effectively we are betting our lives that one is correct. So, if we assume there is a God, and live that way, when we pass beyond this life, and find there is a God, then we have won the wager. And if there is not a God, it really doesn’t matter, for we will not know, but we will at least have lived a good life. Alternatively, if we assume there is not a God, if that is correct, then again it really does not matter. But if there is a God, and we have lived as though that is incorrect – we have lost!

But I will just hold to my belief, through over half a century of experience, that there is a God, that he has blessed me and held me through both good times and bad, and that Jesus really was his son who came to save us.

Now I’ll leave you to read that penultimate paragraph again and work the wager out!
Stephen Hardy

*William Paley, 1742–1805, England
**Blaise Pascal, 1623–1662, France




The Editorial Deadline is 12 noon on 10th of the month prior to being published. 
magazine is sometimes full before the 10th so early copy is advised.

Co-ordinator and Advertising
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Well, to be honest there aren't any 'normal' services as the building is closed. But there is an on-line Evening Service each Sunday at 6.30pm. This is using the popular platform 'Zoom'. Get in touch with Sarah if you would like to join in. Also now a weekly service from inside the church can be found on Facebook.