Teddy Bears Drop In To Sixpenny Handley

by Gerry Lynch last modified 29 May, 2014 06:09 PM

East Dorset village experiments with weekly service for young kids.

Who would have thought that a wet Sunday afternoon would be the start of something great?  After five years in the area, all the families of babies baptised by local vicar, the Revd Mel Durrant at St Mary's, Sixpenny Handley and St Rumbold's, Pentridge were invited to a Teddy Bears’ Picnic to celebrate.

Tiny sandwiches and cakes were prepared. Lay Pastoral Assistants were ready to look after the children and their parents, and Mel was looking forward to reading a story. But it rained – and rained.  Thinking nobody would venture out, only a few cups and saucers were put out, and the urn only half filled.  But they came. Conversations showed a real need to get out, particularly in such weather, and an idea was born – a ‘Teddy Bear Drop-In’.

Now, every Thursday morning St Mary’s buzzes with activity.  Bright mats and toys welcome the children and their carers. The group is organised by LPA Jean Mayne, ‘Granny Jean’ to all the children.  She is helped each week by another LPA. They play with the children, serve squash and biscuits, and keep the parents topped up with tea or coffee. It is a delight to see the children develop, and the parents form supportive friendships. Mel gets to read a story (which he enjoys as much as the children) and there is much laughter. 

Two years on and a second generation is coming through – brothers and sisters, and new families who have heard that this is a good place to be. In May we have our second Teddy Bear Drop-In Anniversary Service – when most people sit on the floor for a very informal and happy service followed by (yes, you’ve guessed) squash and biscuits!

Mel is a governor of the village First School and takes Assembly each week, and the school comes to Church for a longer assembly every Half Term, even though it isn’t a Church school.  His wife, Margaret, is Chair of The Little Pennies Pre School, so between them they have contact with most of the children in the village.

Their continuing prayer is that these precious families will come to know God’s love for them.

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