GroomNews Christmas 2016 December 10, 2016Posted by Phil Groom in Advent and Christmas, Life, News.
Tags: Archdeacon of Wilts, Darton Longman and Todd, Devizes, DLT Books, GroomNews, Phil & Sue Groom, Phil Groom, Sue Groom
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WELCOME to GroomNews Christmas 2016 — and what a year it’s been! We’ve moved home, moved boat, both started new jobs, met lots of new people, lost and found the Christmas wrapping paper… but that’s getting ahead of ourselves: back to the beginning.
Farewell to Henlow & Langford
A huge thank you, first of all, to the wonderful people of Henlow and Langford, not only for giving us a very generous send-off but also for taking the time to travel to Devizes and join us for Sue’s collation and official welcome as Archdeacon of Wilts back in February.
Discovering the Archdeaconry of Wilts
Sue is thoroughly enjoying exploring Wiltshire, visiting the 123 churches in the archdeaconry and getting to know so many different people. Much of her time is spent on appointments: it’s vital to find the right priest for each post. She’s also now making a point of visiting the area’s 53 church schools, where she loves leading collective worship and meeting pupils, staff and governors. Other responsibilities include taking the lead on Safeguarding within the diocese and attending various regular meetings about finance and buildings.
Forget Doctor Who: Here’s Doctor Sue!
Sue submitted her DThM thesis in January before we moved, then came the viva in May and—yes!—she passed with flying colours, not even minor corrections required. The graduation ceremony followed in Durham in July and Sue now enjoys the title of Venerable Doctor. A chapter from the thesis is due to be published in the Anglican Theological Review in Spring 2017. What comes next? If the plan comes together, an LLM in Canon Law at Cardiff, studies commencing next autumn.
Swimming the Channel…
Virtually, that is, 22 miles length by length in our local pool! Sue took up the Aspire Channel Swim Challenge in September, swam the width of the Channel twice, and raised over £1,200 in the process to support people with spinal injuries. A huge thank you to everyone who sponsored her.
Onto the Kennet & Avon
We moved Almost onto the K&A in the summer, cruising up the Thames to Reading and across to Devizes, where Almost is now moored, just a short walk from home. It’s a lovely 87 mile long waterway that stretches across the south of the country to Bath. Phil is getting to know the canal well as he now works part time for CRT, the Canal & River Trust: look out for him at the Caen Hill welcome station if ever you’re out on the towpath!
Back into the Book Trade, and still baking!
Phil is also working part time with DLT Books (Darton, Longman & Todd), helping with publicity and promotions to raise awareness and reach out to people and groups that traditional trade routes aren’t reaching as well as they might. You can find out more and read excerpts from lots of books on the DLT Books Blog, and right now the entire backlist—everything published in 2015 or earlier—is half-price in the Christmas Sale: simply use the discount code xmas in the online shopping basket to activate the discount!
… and yes, Phil is still head chef, baker, bottle washer and gardener, as well as collector of firewood for our lovely open fireplaces!
With our love, prayers and very best wishes for Christmas and the coming year,
— Phil & Sue
GroomNews: May 2016 NewsFlash May 22, 2016Posted by Phil Groom in Life.
Tags: Bookselling, Canal & River Trust, Christianity, Church of England, Devizes, DThM, GroomNews, Kennet & Avon Canal, Phil & Sue Groom
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Hello and thank you to everyone who has been praying for us or otherwise cheering us on as we’ve settled into our new home and roles in Wiltshire.
Today it gives me (Phil writing) great pleasure to announce that Sue has passed the Viva (live examination) for her DThM (Doctorate in Theology and Ministry) with flying colours, not even minor corrections required! If you’re familiar with the way the academic world works, you’ll appreciate how unusual that is: doctorates are very rarely signed off without some revisions or rewriting required; and in this case as much as anything the immediate pass acknowledges the important contribution that Sue’s work makes to the ongoing conversations about training for ordination in the Church of England.
It’s been a long haul, just shy of nine years of research, analysis and writing, and we’re very grateful to everyone whose loving support and encouragement has made it possible, amongst many others the students who agreed to be her ‘guinea pigs’ and her supervisors in Durham, Roger Walton and Stephen Barton to begin with, then Jeff Astley and Richard Briggs. Once the official paperwork has been signed off, her official title will be the Venerable Canon Dr, but to friends and family she will, of course, always simply remain Sue.
I’m also delighted to report some changes for me: after three months as a free agent (unemployed benefits scrounger if you subscribe to the government’s spin on things) I now have two part-time jobs to keep me occupied. Earlier this month I started work for the Canal & River Trust as a Towpath Fundraiser, which means I get to stand around on the towpath at Caen Hill Locks here in Devizes and welcome walkers, cyclists and other passers-by to the Kennet & Avon canal, tell them all about it and invite them to become Friends of the Trust. At this time of year and when the sun is shining, I think it must be the best job in the world! Please do take a look at the Trust’s website and consider signing up yourself: Canal and River Trust > Become a Friend
My second job is to work freelance on behalf of a Christian publisher as an advocate to raise interest in and promote sales of some of their more left-of-field books amongst potential readers who are not being reached by traditional trade channels. It promises to be a challenging role as I seek to work in a way that doesn’t trespass on the territory of existing booksellers, and liaise with authors to help them develop opportunities to generate sales through their own online activities. Look out for me in a social media space near you soon, and please don’t be offended if I tell you to support your local Christian bookshop rather than buy from me! It’s a new venture both for the publisher and for me so it’s initially on a trial basis, subject to review.
There’s much more we could tell you, of course: about the joys and challenges of being an Archdeacon in an area with lots of clergy vacancies and more clergy approaching retirement; or about the pleasures of looking after a wonderful garden where Spring has definitely sprung, the grass is reaching for the sky and all the trees and bushes are filling out with magnificent greenery; but we’ll save that for another time.
Thank you once again for your prayers and support. Please continue to pray for us as we shall continue to pray for you: we look forward to hearing your news in return.
With our love,
GroomNews Christmas 2015 December 14, 2015Posted by Phil Groom in Advent and Christmas, Life, News.
Tags: Almost, Archdeacon of Wilts, Christmas, Christmas Greetings, GroomNews, Phil & Sue Groom, Phil Groom, Preparing to move, Sue Groom
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WELCOME to GroomNews Christmas 2015! Another year almost over as we wonder where the time went as we prepare to celebrate the wonder of God With Us as we prepare to move home and boat as we — phew: got all that? Exciting times here on Planet Groomsville!
Introducing the Next Archdeacon of Wilts
If you saw the announcements in November, you can skip this; but for those who missed it, we’re delighted to announce that Sue has been appointed as the next Archdeacon of Wilts in the Diocese of Salisbury.
So what, you may wonder, is an Archdeacon? Think of it as the Church of England’s equivalent of an Area Manager: instead of looking after her own parish, Sue will be working with lots of parishes, supporting their mission and ministry and helping clergy and PCCs as they deal with various administrative, legal and other issues. Want to know more? See the press release on the Salisbury diocesan website: A New Archdeacon for Wilts
What about Phil?
Good question! He’s handing in his notice at Sainsbury’s with a transfer request to Devizes, where we’ll be based (our new home is only 100 yards or so from the Kennet & Avon Canal) but there are no vacancies there right now so we’re looking at a period (hopefully brief) where he’ll be Archdeacon’s Estate Manager. In other words, baking cakes and looking after house & garden until he finds paid work. Baking cakes? Yes indeed: his new hobby — here’s his latest, this year’s Christmas cake:
His other creations (or concoctions, depending on your point of view) this year have included cheese scones, apple cinnamon cakes, apple & apricot cakes and a cherry-lemon loaf.
In the meantime, he’s as busy as ever with various other projects including 5 Quid for Life, the UK Christian Bookshops Directory and a miscellany of church and community websites: paid work or otherwise, he’s not about to run out of things to do!
Research News: almost there!
The end is in sight for Sue’s research as she works on her final chapter (the conclusion, of course) and pulls everything together before submission next year—gulp!
No edition of GroomNews would be complete without an Almost update, so here it is: our fridge died. Sob! After 25 years loyal service, no less, on the first night of this year’s holiday! Boat fridges don’t come cheap, alas: a replacement would have cost at least £600; but after much asking around, we found someone who could fix it and it’s back in action, cool as ever, for only £60.
Finally, a HUGE thank you to everyone who has encouraged and supported us along the way, with special thanks to the people of Henlow and Langford. It’s been wonderful to see the two churches grow in confidence, faith and love: long may that continue! If you’d like to know more about either or both churches, visit their websites or facebook pages — or even better, visit in person: you can be sure of a warm welcome!
- St Mary’s: henlowchurch.org.uk | facebook.com/StMarysHenlow
- St Andrew’s: langfordchurch.org.uk | facebook.com/StAndrewsLangford
With our love, prayers and very best wishes,
PS: Want to keep up with us in between issues of GroomNews? Connect with Phil on facebook and twitter:
GroomNews Christmas 2014 December 20, 2014Posted by Phil Groom in Advent and Christmas, Family, Life.
Tags: Christmas, GroomNews, Phil & Sue Groom, Phil Groom, Sue Groom
WELCOME to another edition of our infamous annual newsletter, in which we shall attempt to entertain, inform and perhaps even enlighten you rather than bore you too much with the minutiae of our lives…
Don’t Shoot: Sue made a Canon!
That, beloved reader, is Canon spelt with a single ‘n’ in the middle and it’s essentially the Church of England’s equivalent of a New Year’s Honour, which Sue received from the Bishop of St Albans in March this year. Read the churchwardens’ announcement here: Revd Sue to become an Honorary Canon
Research Update: Paper delivered in Durham
Sue’s write-up of her research is proceeding in fits and starts as she struggles to balance it with the demands of her work as a parish priest and DDO (Diocesan Director of Ordinands). In June, however, she was able to give a paper at a research conference in Durham outlining some of her findings. It’s all about the use of the language of formation in ordination training: feel free to ask her if you want the details!
Almost passes Hull Survey
Last year it was the cabin sides and roof that received lots of TLC; this year it was the hull — and we’re delighted to report that after 25 years the deepest pitting in Almost’s 6mm steel plate proved to be only 0.6mm, so at this rate she should easily outlast us. Here she is in dry dock:
The weather was much kinder to us this year for yet another cruise along the Nene to Peterborough and back — and we even managed to fit in a day-trip on the Nene Valley Steam Railway: whoooo-whooooooooooo! Here’s Phil’s video:
Groom Family Weddings
It’s been another year of wedding bells ringing amongst our nephews and nieces: congratulations to Ben & Laura, Catherine & Pete and Andrew & Cheryl.
Online and Interactive
In between stacking the supermarket shelves, Phil’s been as busy as ever with his various online projects, including revamping our own church website (links below) and keeping the UK Christian Bookshops Directory updated, christianbookshops.org.uk. Find him on twitter @notbovvered or on facebook at facebook.com/philgroom if you’re incurably curious.
With our love, best wishes for Christmas and prayers for peace in the coming year,
GroomNews Christmas 2013: The Year of Everyone Getting Older December 19, 2013Posted by Phil Groom in Advent and Christmas, Family, Life.
Tags: Christmas, Christmas Greetings, GroomNews, Phil & Sue Groom, Phil Groom, Sue Groom
2013: The Year of Everyone Getting Older
… or, to be more precise, of us becoming more aware that everyone’s getting older! Let’s start in March, when we celebrated Sue’s 50th birthday with a stay in a Bath hotel: a wonderful few days that included sightseeing, meals out and a boat trip on the river as our hotel was conveniently situated alongside the river upstream from the city centre. Highly recommended!
Now fast forward to December, when Phil’s Dad took a tumble down the stairs and ended up in hospital: not recommended, even when you’re young. Thankfully no bones broken but plenty of bruises. The good news is Phil’s parents have agreed to have a stairlift fitted.
At the other end of the generational gap, we’ve heard wedding bells ringing and possibly angels singing as nephews & nieces have been busy announcing weddings, getting married and/or having babies, making us Great Uncle Phil & Great Aunty Sue all over again — or should that be Grand? But whether it’s great or grand, it’s making us feel older as we realise our nephews & nieces are no longer the little children they were: wholehearted congratulations to them all!
Health & Fitness
In the latter half of the year Sue’s hip became increasingly painful so in December we took a trip to Oxford’s Nuffield Orthopaedic Hospital for a checkup. Conclusion: there’s been some deterioration but probably not enough to warrant a replacement just yet. She should keep up the swimming and pilates/physio exercises and return for another check next year.
As for Phil, in the middle of the year he was diagnosed with suspected glaucoma. Initial tests were inconclusive so he returns for further tests in January 2014: watch this space. Otherwise fine and still cycling to and from work.
5 Quid for Life
Remember 5 Quid for Life? It’s a project launched by Phil and a group of his friends back in 2011 to provide emergency financial support for people with mental health problems who have lost (or are in danger of losing) their benefits as a result of the government’s welfare reforms; and it’s kept Phil quite busy this year responding to enquiries and requests for help. Want to know more? Visit 5quidforlife.org.uk. Donations always welcome, but there are plenty of other ways to help too, such as sharing via facebook and twitter or by putting up a poster in your local community hall or doctor’s waiting room.
Church & Diocese
Running two churches alongside her diocesan role isn’t quite running Sue ragged, but she’s always busy meeting people, preparing to meet people or preparing and running church services and meetings. We’re grateful for all the opportunities her work brings, and we’re just as grateful when we get some breathing space; which brings us neatly to…
The job is done! Colin & Kevin at Spiderworx worked their magic and Almost looked most resplendent in her new livery for our late summer holiday, another trip along the Nene to sunny Peterborough — or not so sunny, as things turned out in September this year.
are still ongoing: it’s proving to be a long slog, longer than originally anticipated, but she hasn’t given up. She’s now in the final phase, writing up her thesis: the challenge, of course, is finding time…
for all the Christmas cards that so many of you have sent. We’re sending out a few to close family but otherwise, as in previous years, will be making a donation to WaterAid instead.
As always, this comes with our love, best wishes for Christmas and prayers for peace in the coming year,
GroomNews Christmas 2012: A Year Like No Other December 15, 2012Posted by Phil Groom in Advent and Christmas, Family, Life.
Tags: Christmas, Christmas Greetings, GroomNews, Phil & Sue Groom, Phil Groom, Sue Groom
to everyone who has already sent us Christmas cards: we’re sending out a few to close family but otherwise we’re making another donation to WaterAid in lieu of cards; please accept this news roundup instead.
The beginning of the year seemed to slip by quietly and uneventfully until a dramatic turn of events landed Phil off work for three months with his left ankle strapped up in a “Beckham Boot”. You can read all about it here: The car didn’t get me, but the cardboard did… — to cut a longer story short, he skidded on a piece of cardboard at work and broke his ankle. The three months weren’t wasted, however, as Phil used the time to carry out some long overdue updates to UKCBD, the UK Christian Bookshops Directory: christianbookshops.org.uk
Not to be outdone by Phil taking three months off work, Sue did likewise in the autumn: from September to November she was on sabbatical. Unlike Phil’s time out, though, Sue’s was planned and we take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in making it possible, from those in the diocese who took on DDO responsibilities to those in the parishes who kept the respective shows on the road. She spent most of the time in Durham, working on her DThM thesis on the language of formation in ordination training. Staying with religious communities and worshipping at the Cathedral provided her with wonderful spiritual refreshment.
At the end of October — two thirds of the way through Sue’s sabbatical — we celebrated our Silver Wedding Anniversary by booking into a hotel in Durham, from where we proceeded to sample the city’s cuisine with visits to different restaurants each evening, interspersed during the day by various outings. Another vote of thanks, this time to everyone who sent us cards, gifts and greetings on the day as well as for your friendship and support down the years.
Repaint for Almost
And how better to celebrate that anniversary than to commission a repaint for Almost? If you’ve seen us out & about on the waterways in recent years, you’ll have noticed that her paintwork leaves much to be desired. It was easy to keep on top of it when we lived afloat: whenever the sun was shining, one of us would be out there with a paintbrush; but since she’s been a holiday home rather than our main residence, it’s been more of a challenge, so we’ve at last called in the professionals: as we write, she’s with Colin & Kevin at Spiderworx (www.spiderworx.co.uk) undergoing a complete repaint and getting new signwriting.
Last year we reported the birth of our great-nephew, Oliver. This year it was wedding bells as niece Ruth married Ashley; and more wedding bells are planned for 2013: niece Claire to marry Simon, and nephew DJ to marry Nat: congratulations to one and all; only another 10 to go … not sure how we’ll ever keep up with them all! That’s all on Phil’s side of the family: over on Sue’s side, Alison, her sister, has left her job as a chaplaincy assistant in Plymouth to set up on her own as a counsellor, Cuthbert Counselling — if you’re in the south west and looking for counselling (or know someone else who is), do give her a shout: www.cuthbertcounselling.co.uk
Health & Fitness
Sue has added Aquafit and Pilates to her regular exercise routine alongside all the swimming, and the routines are paying off, keeping her supple and, on the whole, free from aches & pains in her joints: doing very well, in fact, for someone who hits the big 50 in 2013! Phil has resumed cycling to and from work, and since his work itself is a matter of constant physical activity, he too is pretty much as fit as ever.
Christmas: it’s all about God taking time out from eternity to be God with us. This year we’ve realised how important that is, and in the year ahead we’re determined to take more time out to reconnect with our friends. We look forward to seeing you! For now, however, as always, this comes with our love, best wishes for Christmas and prayers for peace in 2013,
GroomNews Christmas 2011 December 16, 2011Posted by Phil Groom in Advent and Christmas, Life.
Tags: 5 Quid for Life, Almost, Biggles FM, Christmas Cards, Christmas Greetings, GroomNews, Henlow and Langford, LST, Phil & Sue Groom, Phil Groom, River Nene, Sue Groom
A Card Free Zone
Last year we invited you to vote for the charity that would receive our Christmas card money: the charity you chose was WaterAid, so we’ve gone with the flow and designated them for this year too — a much better cause than Royal Mail, we hope you’ll agree…
2011: A Year of Years
10 years since UKCBD, the UK Christian Bookshops Directory, was launched. Christian booksellers are suffering along with other retailers, with dozens of shops closing down.
15 years since Sue’s ordination, and still going strong — from ordinand to DDO: see below!
20 years since we set sail to London on Almost to become students at London Bible College, now London School of Theology. Sadly LST is still struggling to balance the books, with more redundancies kicking in over Christmas/New Year: please pray for those leaving, those left behind and those with the unfortunate task of liaising with the staff affected.
50 years since Phil’s Mum unleashed him on the world: it’s all your fault, mother!! We celebrated with a few days away in York, and you’ll be relieved to know that the city survived the experience.
Church, Work and Research
Sue has now been formally appointed as St Albans DDO, Diocesan Director of Ordinands, which is keeping her busier then ever alongside parish responsibilities and research. DDO work is supposed to take 21 hours a week but in practice it’s nearer 30 — not surprising since her predecessor was full-time. The parishes have been growing in responsibility if not numerically: we now have a trained baptism preparation team and a bereavement visiting team who work across the benefice. Find out more on the church websites, which Phil is now looking after: www.henlowchurch.org.uk and www.langfordchurch.org.uk
The DThM has taken the hit from the workload: Sue has been unable to do as much as she would have liked and now that she’s in year 6, it gets scary. She has, however, negotiated a sabbatical (Sept – Nov 2012) and aims to produce a full draft of the final thesis during that time.
Sue also gives a ‘Thought for the Day’ on our local radio station on the first Thursday of each month: tune in to Biggles FM 104.8 if you’re in range!
This year we set off along a waterway we hadn’t visited before: the River Nene. It’s a lovely stretch of water: Almost fairly flew along and we found some very pleasant moorings along the way. Two weeks gave us enough time to make Peterborough and back. Almost finished the year with a week in dry dock and now has a spendidly shiny black bottom.
In May Sue joined some of her friends in the Third Order of the Society of Saint Francis for a pilgrimage to Assisi. It was a wonderful week revisiting some of the well-known churches but also getting out into the countryside to see where Francis escaped on retreat. For her own annual retreat, Sue returned to Alnmouth Friary in Northumberland and renewed her acquaintance with some of the writings of Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton, two of her favourite spiritual writers.
A New Generation
We’re delighted to report that we are now a Great Uncle and Aunt to Oliver, born to nephew John and his wife Laura in October. Oliver is already taking swimming lessons and is expected to win Gold in the 2012 Olympics: Oliver, we salute you!
A Super Slimline Sue!
Over the summer Sue realised that she was slowly but surely putting on weight (a factor of increasing age apparently!), so she increased her swimming to five mornings a week bright and early and is now slimmer, fitter and healthier than she has been in years.
5 Quid for Life
5 Quid for Life is a new charity launched this year by Phil and a group of friends to support people with mental health problems whose lives and livelihoods are under threat due to changes to the UK benefits system: discover more online at 5quidforlife.org.uk.
Thank you for being there with us through 2011. This comes as always with our love, best wishes for Christmas and prayers for peace in the year ahead,
GroomNews Christmas 2010 December 18, 2010Posted by Phil Groom in Advent and Christmas, Life, News.
Tags: Biggleswade, Café Mocha, Christmas Cards, Christmas Greetings, GroomNews, Henlow and Langford, LST, Phil & Sue Groom, Phil Groom, Sue Groom
Which Charity Would You Choose?
Like last year, instead of adding to the carbon-footprint chaos caused by billions of ultimately unwanted Christmas cards, we’re sending most of this year’s Christmas greetings without a card or by email only. But this time it’s your choice: where should we donate the money we would have spent on cards & postage? The charity which gets the most votes wins £50, as that’s the amount we think we might otherwise have thrown away: vote here today!
2010: All Change Again
We’ve settled in well to the semi-rural lifestyle and we made good friends with the wild birds last winter, but not sure where they’ve all gone this time around. If you see Bedfordshire’s bird population, please tell them there are seeds, fat balls and more waiting for them here.
Sue’s role has changed in the diocese following the retirement of her boss — no, not God, the DDO. Sue is now Interim Acting Diocesan Director of Ordinands, which keeps her very busy interviewing would-be priests and helping them as they find their way through the discernment process. At the same time she continues to be Priest-in-charge of Henlow and Langford. She does seem to have a habit of being appointed to jobs which subsequently double in size! Somehow, in between DDO interviews and parish work, Sue has also resumed her DMin studies, except it isn’t a DMin anymore it’s a DThM. Due date is 2012, which should be possible if she takes a sabbatical to write up. This should be feasible thanks to the arrival of the Revd Patsy Critchley as part-time Assistant Curate in November this year.
If you follow this blog or Phil’s twitterfeed @notbovvered you’ll know that he left LST in September. Things came to a head in July when LST initiated redundancy proceedings against him and several other members of staff, but rather than wait around to be shown the door Phil managed to find another job: he’s now working for Sainsbury’s in Biggleswade. Started in September: so far so good. A simple routine: go to Sainsbury’s, take stuff off the shelves, give Sainsbury’s money; go back to Sainsbury’s, put stuff on shelves, Sainsbury’s give Phil money. Less pay for less responsibility but immensely liberating and as Biggleswade is within walking distance of home, a substantial saving on travel. Please pray for others made redundant and for those left behind at LST battling their way through the education sector’s financial crisis.
Before starting at Sainsbury’s, Phil spent a while working as a volunteer at Café Mocha, a Christian-run community café in Biggleswade. Whether you fancy an Americano, a Gingerbread Latte or Mocha Snowball, Café Mocha is the place to get yours: the friendliest and best fairtrade café in town! Find out more at cafemocha.org.uk or facebook.com/CafeMochaBiggleswade
Almost is now moored closer to home, at Milton Keynes Marina on the Grand Union. This year’s summer holiday took us from the Kennet & Avon, up the Thames and via the Oxford Canal to the Grand Union. Most enjoyable, especially catching up with a few friends along the way. It was too hot the first week and too wet the second: typical British weather — but at least it didn’t snow!
It’s been an interesting year for Phil’s parents, with his Dad having a mini-stroke and his Mum having a hip replacement. The net result is that Dad has slowed down and Mum has got faster. Please pray for them as they readjust to one another’s strengths and weaknesses.
This year Ed, one of our nephews, was posted to Afghanistan with the RAF. Please pray for a speedy resolution of the conflict and a safe return home for him and all the troops.
Thank you for your friendship over the past year: this comes with our love, best wishes for Christmas and our prayers for peace in the year ahead,
Vote now for the charity you’d like to receive our Christmas card money! We’ve selected 5 but feel free to nominate another via the comments below: if other readers shout out for them then they might win instead!
GroomNews Christmas 2009 December 11, 2009Posted by Phil Groom in Life.
Tags: Christian booktrade, Former SPCK Bookshops, GroomNews, Henlow and Langford, LST, Phil & Sue Groom, Phil Groom, STL Distribution, Sue Groom, World Vision
What? No Christmas Card??
This year, rather than add to the planet’s burden of billions of ultimately unwanted Christmas cards, we’ve decided to send out most copies of this edition of GroomNews without a card or by email only. We’re donating the money that we would have spent on cards to World Vision instead. If you haven’t already sent out your cards, may we encourage you to consider doing the same?
Challenges and Changes
2009 has been another year of challenges and changes, the most dramatic of which was our move away from London to the delightful wilds of Bedfordshire. Sue now has a new dual role as Priest-in-Charge of two semi-rural parishes, Henlow & Langford, and as Assistant Diocesan Director of Ordinands in the Diocese of St Albans. We’ve been warmly welcomed by the two villages, the vicarage is the best yet and we are especially delighted to have a garden again. There are numerous opportunities for ministry with three schools and all sorts of community groups. In the run up to Christmas Sue is dashing here, there and everywhere, but she is thoroughly enjoying being back in parish ministry!
Sue has put her DMin studies on hold for the current academic year but she is fulfilling the occasional teaching commitment alongside tutoring for LST’s Open Learning Hebrew course.
Unfortunately Langford isn’t so good for Phil’s job at LST: the journey takes two hours each way so he’s cut down to working three days a week and is looking for work closer to home. Reduced hours, of course, means a reduced income, but also helps to reduce LST’s costs in running the shop: along with so many other bookshops, the LST Bookshop is struggling to break even in the current economic climate. Although students and staff have been very supportive, having the LST community as a ‘captive audience’ doesn’t help when they have limited funds and are just as liable as anyone else to shop online for lower prices.
A Less Painful Hip
Following a course of physiotherapy, a carefully planned regime of exercises and regular swimming at a very good pool in Biggleswade, Sue’s hip has been much less painful this year.
is still moored on the Kennet & Avon (K&A) canal with the Newbury Boat Company. This year’s summer holiday took us further along the K&A to Devizes, where we resisted the temptation to go through what is widely regarded as one of the most impressive flights of locks in the country. We settled for mooring at the top and watching sympathetically as other boaters went for it in the rain…
Phil Blogs On
The SPCK/St Stephen the Great bookshops situation seems to be approaching resolution: earlier in the year the Charity Commission appointed an Interim Manager who took control of the shops from the Brewer brothers. He is now selling the organisation’s assets in order to pay outstanding debts. Read all about it at spckssg.wordpress.com
Sadly the last year has seen another crisis building up in the Christian booktrade: in October 2008 STL Distribution (the UK and Europe’s biggest Christian wholesaler and owners of Authentic Media publishing and the Wesley Owen bookshops) attempted to install a new IT system as part of its parent company Biblica’s globalisation strategy. Unfortunately it all went pear shaped and for reasons that remain unclear, they were unable to revert to the previous system. In November Biblica announced that they were pulling the plug on their UK operations. It’s all very messy with at least 490 people’s jobs on the line, but hopefully some resolution should be found before Christmas. Please pray for everyone caught up in the situation. You can find out more on the UKCBD blog: christianbookshopsblog.org.uk.
With Our Love
As always, this comes with our thanks for your friendship, our love, best wishes for Christmas and our prayers for peace in the year ahead,
GroomNews Christmas 2008 December 7, 2008Posted by Phil Groom in News.
Tags: Durham Cathedral Shop, GroomNews, Phil & Sue Groom
A Year of Changes
For us, it’s been a year of changes, starting in February with the death of Sue’s Dad, leaving a huge gap in the family and in our lives. Thanks to everyone who has prayed for us, for Sue’s Mum and for Alison, Sue’s sister; and to those who have helped in many different ways. This Christmas will, of course, be our first Christmas without him and we’d be grateful for your continued prayers as we adjust to his absence.
Another Year of Uncertainty
It’s also been another year of uncertainty: at the end of last year it was announced that the Bishop of Kensington was moving on. Since Sue’s job as Director of Deanery Licensed Ministers was created by the Bishop as part of his vision for the Kensington Area, this inevitably left a question mark hanging over the project: will the new Bishop want to pursue his predecessor’s vision? Now, more than a year later, we’re still waiting for an announcement of a new Bishop…
Even so, it’s been a very busy year for Sue as her role in the Diocese has expanded: as well as being on core staff for STETS (Southern Theological Education Training Scheme) in Salisbury, where her DLM candidates are training, she is now core staff at London’s new St Mellitus College, teaching Old Testament. Most weekends and many evenings she’s out & about preaching, teaching and fostering vocations at different churches and events or courses around the Kensington Area. Find out more online: www.dlmkensington.org.uk
There’s also been a sense of uncertainty at LST in a year without a Principal, following Derek Tidball’s surprise early retirement last year. The School was delighted, however, to welcome Simon Steer as its new Principal in September this year. Again, you can find out more online: www.lst.ac.uk
A Painful Hip
This autumn Sue’s left hip has been causing some concern. In November we went to the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Oxford, for an MRI Scan and arthrogram; we are now due to meet with her consultant to review the scan results. Meanwhile, thanks to the Archdeacon’s generosity, she has been receiving some excellent physiotherapy. By the time you read this we should have a clearer idea of what’s happening and the way ahead…
Year of the Blog!
For me, Phil, it’s been the year of the blog. Wednesday April 2nd 2008 saw the launch of the Christian Bookshops Blog at christianbookshopsblog.org.uk, followed at the end of June by the launch of SPCK/SSG: News, Notes and Info, a blog dedicated to discussing, scrutinising and reporting on the controversies surrounding the handover of the former SPCK Bookshops to the St Stephen the Great Trust (SSG).
In July, whilst we were on holiday, J Mark Brewer, the Chairman of SSG, threatened me with legal action if I didn’t stop reporting on his activities: I’m now reporting even more! You can read all about it at spckssg.wordpress.com where, as I write this newsletter, we’re taking a long, hard look at the Durham Cathedral Shop. To describe things as ‘messy’ is putting it very mildly…
A New Home for Almost
But not the snowy spot on the card that you most likely received with this newsletter if you received a copy by snail mail: that photo was taken more than 15 years ago when we were moored in Tipton. Special thanks to the Tipton Civic Society for providing us with those cards.
For this year’s summer holiday we waved a final fond farewell to Yiewsley and Packet Boat Marina and set off down the Grand Union, up the Thames and onto the Kennet & Avon, a canal we’d never explored before. Almost is now snugly moored with the Newbury Boat Company — and with mooring fees almost £1,000 per year cheaper than they were in the London area, we wonder why we didn’t move sooner!
- To Phil’s Mum, who celebrated her 70th birthday this year;
- To our oldest nephew, John, who announced his engagement to Laura: they get married in May 2009;
- To Sue’s sister, Alison, who is now working as a Pastoral Assistant in the Chaplaincy Department at Marjon’s College, Plymouth;
- To you, for reading this far: thank you!
Once again, this comes with our love, best wishes for Christmas and our prayers for peace in the year ahead,