Summer is well and truly here, and it is lovely to see the parish basking in the sunshine. The churchyard and meadow look like an idyllic scene from Cider with Rosie and it is not hard to close one’s eyes and transport oneself back hundreds of years.

It seems like an age ago that the Mountbatten Choir were raising the roof at the lovely concert they gave back in May. We were so grateful to John Whitney for organising this, and to the amazing choir for giving us such an enjoyable evening.

We’ve had two weddings, Cerys Leyman and Stephen White in May and Fred Kirby and Lisa Thorpe in June. Children from Shalfleet School helped take a service in the church on 30th June and last Saturday we had the Open Garden at Ningwood Manor in glorious sunshine.

We had 85 visitors to the gardens and raised just over £500 for Shalfleet Church. Tea and cakes were on offer, with special thanks to Maureen Beavis for her delicious cakes and to the amazing team of helpers who served, washed up, collected plates, served again, and lugged garden furniture around, all afternoon. And a special thanks to Meg Fenwick for loan of her field for the parking – we couldn’t do this without her.

Next up is a special service on Sunday 14th July in the Pearl Centre on the Military Road, and then we will be getting ready for the annual Open Garden at Crab Cottage on Sunday 21st July, thanks to Peter and Mencia Scott. Their beautiful garden will be open from 11am until 5pm, and it is always an absolute delight.

And then a date for your diaries, on Friday 9th August Ed and Katherine Clarke will be giving a concert in the church at 6pm.

It has been nearly twenty years since Ed and Katherine Clarke – then at the tender ages of eleven and eight – first performed at Shalfleet Village Hall in aid of the Church Fabric Fund. They reunited a decade later in the summer of 2011, while university students, for a second charity performance in the church itself.

Katherine subsequently completed her undergraduate studies at the Royal College of Music before achieving a Distinction in her Masters in Performance at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2017, with scholarships from the Goldsmiths’ Company and the Guildhall School Trust. She is now a renowned professional viola player with a particular specialism in contemporary repertoire and performing works for singing violist. She continues to premiere newly composed pieces, many written specifically for her, and has studied under Garth Knox in Paris.

Ed went on to read Classics at the University of Nottingham, during which time he directed and repetiteured (not a word I was familiar with until this morning!) six operas and musicals, accompanied sixty recitals, co-wrote the successful musical Wild West End for the Edinburgh Fringe and embarked upon a one-man stand-up comedy tour, culminating in a run at the ADC Theatre, Cambridge.

The duo will be performing once again at Shalfleet Church on Friday 9th August at 6pm with a programme ranging from classical and contemporary to jazz and Flanders & Swann. All proceeds will, as ever, go towards the maintenance of the church.

But to end on a sad note, many of you will have heard that Colin Smith died last Saturday after a long and brave battle against increasing ill health, and is now reunited with his beloved Barbara. Colin’s funeral will take place in the church on Monday 22nd July at 1 pm. Colin and Barbara were great friends of the Church and will be much missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with their family at this difficult time.