Category Archives: People

Mabel Wilson (1922-2014)

Mabel on the swing in her garden April 2014

Mabel on the swing in her garden April 2014

It was with great sadness that we heard that Mabel died on Monday morning. She had a stroke over the weekend and was in hospital. Mabel was one of the most cheerful, lively, saintly people who never let things get her down.

Mabel had a brilliant, positive spirit which was not obviously crushed by her many health problems. She was always cheerful, usually smiling and often laughing.She loved clothes, colour and jewellery and had lovely long hair which she arranged with pretty combs. She adored her garden and was very knowledgeable about plants.

She was the choir at All Hallows’, changing into a choir robe and proud of her choir medallion. She would stand to lead us in singing the Gloria even when her ‘ruddy’ legs (to quote her) were painful.

She may well have been the first ‘green’ person at All Hallows’, making purificators (the cloths used with the chalices) out of shirts and regularly repairing liturgical ‘equipment’. She was creative and was good at tapestry and made us some rainbow vestments.

When I joined her to do the sacristy work, she was definitely the brains of the operation. She was in charge in the vestry and was knowledgeable and unafraid to be critical of clergy, sometimes quite bluntly!

Mabel was a spiritual and very faithful person who always lived in the present and was ready to embrace new ideas.

As well as attending church on a weekly basis, Mabel was also involved with groups associated with All Hallows’. She was a regular at the Tuesday Together group and helped at the St. Margaret’s Playgroup which was based in the Cardigan Centre.

We celebrated Mabel’s 90th. birthday in 2012 in church with cake and beautiful bunting made by the children. We will miss Mabel and give thanks for all that she was to us and for being such a joyful member of the All Hallows’ family.

Mabel helping to make the felt hanging in April 2011

Mabel helping to make the felt hanging in April 2011

Mabel at memorial rose planting for Andrew Shackleton, Spring 2014

Mabel at memorial rose planting for Andrew Shackleton, Spring 2014

Do please share with us your memories of a great lady.

I’m a bluebell!

After church today we had a shared lunch and then a group of us went for a walk in Gledhow Valley Woods to look at the fantastic bluebells. Here is a photo of some of us trying to be a bluebell!


Remembering Andrew Shackleton – planting a rose

It is nearly two years since Andrew died (the date was 16 April 2012), and David Randolph-Horn and the PCC decided that we should plant a rose in the Memorial Garden in his memory. Andrew’s mother Marion wanted to commemorate him in this way, and it was lovely that she was able to be there and to take part.

The date set for the planting was Sunday 9 March 2014, and on the previous day Marion and I went to Harlow Carr Gardens near Harrogate to buy the rose. We chose a beautiful red rose called ‘Benjamin Britten’, particularly appropriate as Andrew loved classical music and Britten was also gay.

Preparing the rose

David shakes the rose bush out of its container

Sunday was an amazingly beautiful day, warm and sunny, more like early summer than early spring: so it was no hardship to start the service outside in the Memorial Garden. We all gathered around the corner where the volunteer group had prepared the ground and dug a suitable hole. David was presiding, and he led us in a version of the Gathering responses for Lent, adapted to remind us of some of Andrew’s spiritual fruits and gifts.

Planting the rose

We each took turns to throw some earth around the rose

Then came the planting of the rose bush. After David had placed the rose in its hole, we all took turns to throw some earth in, starting with the children (trowels were provided). It wasn’t hurried; we had time to think of Andrew and to remember with gratitude all he had brought to us as individuals and as a spiritual community. Then we went inside to continue the service.

David helps Marion, Andrew's mother, to come forward

David helps Marion, Andrew’s mother, to come forward

After the service we remembered to give the newly planted rose a good soaking with water, to give it a good chance of settling in and thriving!

Andrew John Shackleton 1954–2012
May he rest in peace and rise in glory



Photographs © Jan Betts 2014

Remembering Andrew Shackleton – his TV interviews

Andrew Shackleton appearing on Sunday Live November 1997

Andrew Shackleton appearing on Sunday Live November 1997

After the service last Sunday (9 March) we showed a 6-minute video clip of Andrew Shackleton debating the issues of being gay and Christian with Rev Steve Donnell, a member of ‘Reform’, a fundamentalist group within the Church of England. This was from an edition of the Sunday Live programme transmitted on 20 October 1996; the interviewer was John Stapleton.

If you missed it, or would like to see it again, I’ve now put the video clip up on YouTube at

There is also another Sunday Live interview that Andrew did, dated 30 November 1997, in which he debates same-sex parenting with Dr Peggy Norris. I’ve put that one up on YouTube too, at It’s slightly longer at 7 minutes 39 seconds.

At that time, in the mid- to late 1990s, Sunday Live was produced by Fiona Thompson, and that is how Fiona and Andrew met. Later they were both deeply involved in The Sacred Wing, the lesbian and gay choir (an offshoot of Gay Abandon) whose concerts of choral works and carols have become an annual pre-Christmas tradition at All Hallows. It is Fiona who kindly dug into the archives to provide DVDs of the relevant Sunday Live programmes.