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GroomNews Christmas 2020: the strangest of years… December 3, 2020

Posted by Phil Groom in Advent and Christmas, Death, Family, Life, News.
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2020: it’s a year none of us is likely to forget, no matter how much we’d like to, full of words like pandemic, unprecedented, furlough, shielding, lockdown and tiers. For many it’s been a year of grief (we’ve had some of that) but it’s also been a year of hope and transformation as people have discovered new ways of working and doing things differently under lockdown.

Len Groom, 1935 - 2020

We’ll start with the grief: as the year wore on, Phil’s Dad’s health took a turn for the worse and, sadly, he died in October. Here he is sitting in his favourite armchair. Now he’s with his Lord in glory, probably discussing the finer details of theology, biblical interpretation, carpentry and how to build model windmills…

Life under lockdown
How have you dealt with lockdown and tiers? For us it began with working from home, then Phil was furloughed and told to shield (due to COPD), church buildings were closed and Sue — along with all other clergy — had to learn how to lead worship from home: zoom zoom! Then came the challenge of keeping fit…

Sue swimming with a bungee-cord

Enter the world of bungee-cord swimming: Sue took to it, if not like a duck to water, certainly like a pro-swimmer. The biggest problem was the neighbourhood cats, who took great delight in getting their claws into the air-ring around the pool. Thankfully strategic patching and fencing helped it last until Sue’s favourite lake in the Cotswold Water Park reopened, after which it was swim, swim, swim until she was ready for this year’s sponsored swim for Aspire, 6.5km along the River Arun.

Cycle, swim, cycle, swim, tennis, swim, cycle, swim, cycle
The Big Stretch: here’s Almost emerging from dry dock at Bradford on Avon after her extension from 45’ to 60’ — retirement beckons!
The Big Stretch: here’s Almost emerging from dry dock at Bradford on Avon after her extension from 45’ to 60’ — retirement beckons!

Other News…
🌟 Sue passed her LLM in Canon Law with flying colours, achieving a distinction and an award for the best Masters in Law thesis.
🎾 Phil set up an improvised tennis court in the back yard which helped keep both of us moving during lockdown.
🏊‍♀️ Sue swam the Henley Mile in August as part of her preparation for her River Arun swim.
🪵 Phil has sawn, split and chopped more firewood than ever to keep us going through the winter.
✅ Sue’s Mum is still living contentedly in her own home with a full-time live-in carer.
🥕 Phil’s also been keeping himself busy in the garden growing carrots, potatoes and leeks.
👍 Sue has had a wonderfully pain-free year!
🧁 Phil has done lots of lovely lockdown baking, including chocolate brownies & Ovaltine cookies using a recipe from his Mum — thanks Mum!

Club La Santa: entrance sign with cacti

Holidays!
We’ve been very fortunate with holidays this year: a week in Hayle, Cornwall, with Sue’s sister Alison, which included sailing with dolphins and visits to the Seal Sanctuary & Land’s End; and a week’s retreat with the Sheldon Community in Devon, stopping off at Sidmouth en route in both directions. Saving the best till last, an undoubted highlight of our year was a SwimQuest holiday at Club La Santa, Lanzarote, way back in February, with Olympic swimmer James Goddard and a group of other enthusiastic swimmers from around the UK.

Olympic outdoor pool at Club La Santa

Finally a huge thank you to everyone who has cheered us on and encouraged us through what has been a very bleak year for so many: without that support this would have been a very different year. With our love & prayers for Christmas and hoping with you for the best possible year ahead,

Phil & Sue
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