The day dawned bright on the Saturday morning of the Memorial Service. We had done everything we could to advertise the event. We had put notices up in all of the village communal places – Spencers Wood, Three Mile Cross and Swallowfield Post offices; Spencers Wood and Swallowfield Village Hall and lastly St Michaels & All Angels Church. We had put an article in Loddon Reach (twice!). We had also written to the Reading Chronicle and they had published an article about the Memorial Service.
Where some of us were still in contact with ex-teachers and pupils from Ryeish Green School, we had used word of mouth to publicise the service … but nonetheless we were still anxious – Was that enough? Would anyone actually turn up? Would we be faced with an empty Church?
We should not have worried. Over fifty of Ryeish Green’s ex-teachers and pupils arrived in the sparkling sunshine. They welcomed each other warmly and the service began with the Reverend Beatrice Pearson leading.
She commenced with talking of Memories , and we sang “All things Bright and Beautiful”.
Jeannie Brice from our Spencers Wood Local History Group then read out a poem called “God’s Lent Child”. The feedback was so warm that we have taken the liberty of reproducing it here, in full.
God’s Lent Child
I’ll lend you for a little while, a child of mine, God said
For you to love the while he lives and mourn for when he’s dead.
It may be six or seven years, or forty-two or three
But will you, till I call him back, take care of him for me?
He’ll bring his charms to gladden you and should his stay be brief
You’ll always have his memories as a solace in your grief.
I cannot promise he will stay, since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught below I want this child to learn.
I’ve looked this whole world over in my search for teachers true
And from the folk that crowd Life’s lane I have chosen you.
Now will you give him all your love and not think the labour vain,
Nor hate me when I come to take this lent child back again?
I fancy that I heard them say “Dear God, thy will be done.
For all the joys this child will bring the risk of grief we’ll run.
We will shelter him with tenderness, we’ll love him while we may
And for all the happiness we’ve ever known, we’ll ever grateful stay.
But should the angels call him much sooner than we’d planned
We will brave the bitter grief that comes and try to understand.
~ Author Unknown
Beatrice then said a little about the children of Ryeish Green and we remembered each of them one by one –
Gail Tildesley, John Taylor, Lorraine Denton, William Mearns, Simon Coster and Robert Jones.
We also remembered the teachers Richard Turner and Maureen Galloway.
All of them will have memorials in the churchyard.
Margaret Bampton, from the History group, then read from the New English Bible. An extract from The Gospel according to St Mark, chapter 10, verses 14-1: “He said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not try to stop them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you,
whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like child, will never enter it.” And he put his arms around them, laid his hands upon them, and blessed them.”
Beatrice then completed the service with an Address and the Lord’s Prayer, before we sang “Give me oil in my lamp”, and we all left the church for her to bless the actual plaques, and a plant of remembrance was placed.
Our group would like extend their gratitude, although many people have supported making the service possible, in particular to Lesley Somerville, David Maloney, Anne Luckhurst, John Veale, the ex-pupils who came, those from the resource centre, and of course the Reverend Beatrice Pearson.