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'Unity is Strength'

by Michael Ford last modified 11 Jun, 2021 10:51 PM

Maintaining annual rural traditions has been a challenge lately, but community spirit continues, with a dash of humour in many cases.

In Wiltshire's Wylye and Till Benefice, the parish of Great Wishford has been celebrating Oak Apple Weekend, upholding the Oak Apple Club motto of 'Unity is Strength'.

So how do you celebrate an Oak Apple Weekend?

Licensed Lay Minister Yvonne Allen explains:

"May 29th and 30th saw another Covid-restricted Oak Apple celebration, but there was enthusiasm and participation a-plenty over both the Saturday and the Sunday.

"Morning prayer and a blessing were said at St Giles’, and the Royal Oak pub opened its doors to give our early risers (woken by the Rough Band at 4:00am!) a hearty breakfast, before they set off to the Cathedral.

"Once the all-important Rights to gather fallen wood from Grovely had been renewed, villagers set about putting the finishing touches to scarecrows.

"The Nitch ladies gathered to dance at four locations in the village (quite a feat of endurance!), parading behind the banner-bearers.

"Bunting billowed and suitably satirical scarecrows made us smile with their poses and slogans."

The three winners depicted a hedge diver, a scout, and 'lockdown laziness', as below:

'Unity is Strength'- Great Wishford scarecrow winners- diver, scout and lockdown laziness

Yvonne continues:

"The sun continued to shine the next day and the Oak Apple service of celebration took place bathed in warmth and a golden light. It was held in the field beside the barn, where chairs were placed, well spaced-out, and the wine kept cool in the small marquee.

"The service theme was ‘Oak Apple and our community: growing stronger and adapting to change’. It was very much the product of a team effort, including prayers written by Wishford school pupils. The collection went to Wishford’s Almshouses charity.

'Unity is Strength'- Great Wishford gathers as a community

"Wine, squash and nibbles, courtesy of the Oak Apple Club, were served where people were seated, and the chatter was testament to the long-pent-up need to come together as a community!"

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