We would like to thank God for Veronica Palgrave, who recently stepped down from our Local Support Group after twenty years. She has worshipped at Shiloh Pentecostal Church in Aston for over thirty years, and is a local Elder as well as National Missioner, so she is a very busy lady! Here is what she had to say:
What was your first contact with Lee Abbey?
I think it was in 1987 that David Horn, who was then vicar of St James’, Aston, organised a trip to Lee Abbey and I was asked to come along. It was great to meet all the people and to see that we are all serving the same God. Things were wonderful; looking down onto the bay reminded me of my home (Montserrat). Although there were programmes set, you still had time to be quiet or go for a walk, and that’s what really impressed me.
John Perry and others wanted to start a household community in Aston. When Audrey Martin-Doyle was about to come, she said to me, “We’re coming to be” and I said, “You don’t need to be, you come to do!” She said, “No, we’re coming to be!” and I couldn’t understand it at the time.
But Lee Abbey Aston has been a presence in the community. Although many people don’t know exactly what is happening here, there are others who have benefited from the presence, the “being” here in Aston. It took me some time to realise what “being” was (laughs).
So were you involved with the Local Support Group from the start?
At first Bishop Michael Whinney chaired the group. Then I was invited to come onto the committee, and I didn’t hesitate. Later on, I agreed to be the Chair when Michael left.
John Ray was Chair for a while, and then you came back for a second stint?
I know, I’m a glutton for punishment, aren’t I? But I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. One time we had other Communities — in Blackburn and Knowle West — and Aston always had finance coming in and the others were struggling, and I said to my co-workers, “We have to do something about this, let’s give them some of our money,” which is the first time that had happened. So everybody benefited.
How do you think things have changed in Aston in the last twenty years?
Aston has changed in that you don’t know where you are really. You walk down the street and you hear all these different languages, and you think, “Am I in India or in Pakistan, or where?” But it’s been an enrichment, because although we do not speak their languages, we can understand what they’re saying — well, I can anyway. I give God thanks for them, because we are here witnessing to them. Even if we don’t say a word, our lives can speak, actually pointing them to Jesus, and that’s what it’s all about.