On Friday Oaklands School visited St Mary’s for their annual Christmas celebration. They had also celebrated with us at Easter this year.
One of the teachers is Jim Marshall, husband of Anna (confirmed in the summer) and father of Emlyn (christened at the same time) – who is about to have a baby brother or sister. Jim, now in his second year at the school, explained that coming to St Mary’s provides the only chance the whole school has all to get together – no space at school is big enough.
That means the occasion generates quite a bit of excitement in school. Then, making the short journey to St Mary’s is part of the build up. For some of them, simply being and staying in an unfamiliar building is an achievement. A number of the older students did readings and had other roles. The choir had been practising, along with a couple of musicians (brass) accompanying them. This year there were special lighting effects.
The visit also provides the chance for their students to participate in something local, and indeed for them to give something back within the locality of the school. (As a special needs school, it draws students from across the Borough.) This the school actively encourages. In (too) many areas of life, it can be hard for their students to take part in wider ‘community’ events. Just this week, the choir had also sung at the Tuesday Club in St John’s Centre. It had been enthusiastically received.
Jim was confident that the student he was responsible for had enjoyed the occasion – the travel, the music and the lighting especially. Mary had a baby, yes my Lord, seemed to go down well.
People with special needs/disability bring something very precious to the life of the church. They truly do strengthen ‘community’, drawing people together in the spririt of the Gospel. We are most fortunate to have Oaklands on our doorstep.