In February 2019 the Anglican parish of Saint Andrew and Saint Mark,
Surbiton held its third wine-tasting evening to raise funds for
UKFTSH. A date was chosen that was after “dry January” but
before the fasting season of Lent; and this ensured a good turn-out
of over 70 people. The tasting was once again led by the vicar, the
Revd. Robert Stanier.
this occasion the theme was a contest between wines from France and
those from elsewhere. Three pairs of wine were presented – each
pair being of a similar style and selling at a similar price.
most interesting contrast was between a white wine from the Loire
valley and another from California. Both wines were made only from
the Sauvignon Blanc grape, but were quite different in character.
Many of the tasters had a definite preference for the light and
fruity example from the US; but others found this wine to be insipid
and characterless, and opted for the greater complexity and structure
of the French version. France won by a single vote.
also won the other two contests. The Wine Society’s claret easily
beat a Chilean Merlot, despite the fact that some people thought that
the claret was being sold too soon, and needed more time to mature in
bottle. The heavier reds were less closely matched in style,
although both included Syrah (or Shiraz) in the blend. A French wine
in which the Carignan grape was predominant beat one from South
Africa in which the Shiraz was blended with Mourvèdre – although
the latter won the vote for “best wine of the evening”.
Some of our trustees provided cheese and paté which, together with a raffle for a fine bottle of champagne, helped to make the evening a social success; and together with other donations from church members, it again raised a total of over £1,350 for UKFTSH before Gift Aid.
Following a very successful wine-tasting event in aid of UKFTSH in 2017, the Anglican parish of Saint Andrew and Saint Mark, Surbiton, decided to see if they could do even better in 2018. On 27 January some 80 people gathered in St. Mark’s Hall to sample wines made from unfamiliar grape varieties.
Everyone was given a glass of prosecco on arrival – and later had their knowledge tested by a quiz question asking them to identify the grape from which prosecco is made. Despite the fact that the vicar and master of ceremonies, the Revd. Robert Stanier, had given them the answer in his introduction, only a few people correctly identified the grape*.
The other grape varieties represented (out of several thousand from which wine can be made) were Verdejo and Falanghina for white wine, Fer for rosé, and Negroamaro and Feteascӑ Neagrӑ for red.
Of these the Feteascӑ Neagrӑ was a clear favourite among the tasters, most of who had never heard of it before – although one person told us that he had recently visited a vineyard in Moldova where the grape is grown. It is an old variety that survived the phylloxera epidemic of the nineteenth century. It produces wine of a deep red colour with a hint of blackcurrant in the flavour.
The event was a success on three counts – all those attending clearly enjoyed themselves; the eyes and taste buds of many were opened to wines beyond those on the standard restaurant lists; and (with other donations, and before taking account of Gift Aid) a total of £1,385 was raised for UKFTSH.
Our annual carol singing, accompanied by our violinist, took place at Surbiton station on a VERY cold night in December. Lots of friends, both old and new, came to sing and a very harmonious sound was to heard. Commuters joined in with clapping, smiling and singing along, PLUS being very generous with their money. In a hour and a half we collected £635.76 which amounts to £794.70 when Gift Aid is added. A magnificent amount in a short space of time.
Many of you have been asking about the situation in Freetown. As I write it is just over a week since the tragic mudslide took place and the 7-day period of mourning declared in its wake has come to an end. One of my colleagues in country reports that 492 bodies have been buried, with hundreds still missing and thousands of people displaced. We have heard from staff at the Shepherds Hospice and from other friends and colleagues in country. All are safe but many have lost members of their extended family.
The main area affected was Regent, a settlement to the east of Freetown on a back road which links the former Hospice building with Freetown (thus I have often travelled through it). During the civil war the majority of the population were forced into Freetown and there are many densely populated settlements like this on the margins, especially congregating around rivers of course. Many dwellings are made of corrugated iron and mud bricks housing large families who would all have been sleeping. You may also have seen on the news some larger brick built homes. These are relatively recent, as things were starting to improve for the country prior to Ebola.
There has also been an extensive road renovation/tarmacking/widening scheme through Regent and surrounds. The former road mentioned was a ‘mud’ track prior to my last visit in 2016. Some are linking this excavation to the disaster but CNN reports a 300-fold increase in rainfall since the start of the rainy season. Whatever the cause the impact is massive and likely to worsen as the country has once again been gripped by grief. Just as the shoots of recovery from war were apparent the horror of Ebola quickly strangled them.
In the words of the President, “Hundreds of our unsuspecting compatriots were swept away from their sleep onto untimely deaths. They all had their plans for the next day; they had their hopes and aspirations for a bright future like the six innocent children who went to study in the home of one of their brightest colleagues; like the young man who was due to get married tomorrow.”
In the words of a colleague, Sandra Lako, “A mum came to the clinic with her 6 week old. With great sorrow she told us that her husband and mother died in the flooding. She is now a widow and her child will never know his father. On Saturday I met a lady whose family slept in their new home in Regent for the first time on the eve of the disaster. Early Monday morning the lady, her husband and their one-year-old went to their former house to get the last belongings. By the time they returned to Regent the landslide had taken place. Their 12 and 4-year-old children died in the mudslide. They never saw them again. There is so much grief. Yet the resilience of the Sierra Leoneans is remarkable. Time after time they demonstrate that even in a crisis, they press on. They stand together. They smile. They are courageous. They are kind.”
A more positive legacy of Ebola has been a greatly heightened awareness and acceptance of the way in which disease is spread. It is only half way through the rainy season and the threat of cholera, typhoid, and dysentery from contaminated water will be growing …wells are scarce and taps even more so! Please pray for those bereaved. For the Staff at Connaught hospital and mortuary and all those involved in the response including the United Methodist church which is very active. For the small number of survivors who are being cared for at the Connaught and for the safety of the hundreds currently in shelters who have suffered huge losses of family and friends as well as property.