Minister leaves with memories – not all happy
Saturday 3rd November 2012, 10:00AM GMT.
THE Rev. Gill Nicholls left Sark this week after exactly a year as minister at the Anglican church of St Peter.
She and her lay reader husband Colin originally intended staying for a six-month stint, but somehow that became a full year, which ended last Sunday with her final service at St Peter as minister.
Along with Methodist lay pastor Karen Le Mouton, Gill will soon be centre stage on British television screens when the BBC2 Island Parish series is screened, but being filmed over much of her stay in Sark will not necessarily be the most significant memory of the island.
‘Had I known that was going to happen I doubt I’d have come,’ she admitted, ‘but there is no big memory to take away, just lots and lots of other memorable events – some joyful and some very sad.’
Gill said that the sadness was brought about by several unexpected deaths of Sark residents and of course the overturned carriage incident during the summer in which a Swiss tourist died and a number of other people were injured.
‘But there have been joyous occasions also,’ she said. ‘Pam Cocksedge’s MBE presentation, book launches, Carl Hester and the gold post box, a royal visit and the Jubilee service in church, where I have never heard the national anthem sung like it was that day. There was also the annual pet service – a tremendous atmosphere and something I never thought I’d be involved in.
‘Then, of course, there was my first prize in the miniature garden class at the late summer show – I am tremendously proud of that. But I think most of all we will take away memories of people – the camaraderie, determination and willingness to make things work is something which I have come to admire.’
Their intention is to retire to a thatched cottage in a Buckinghamshire village but, as Gill said, ‘we’re open to whatever God may lead us to’.
The Sark Estate Management vineyard appears to have expanded significantly in recent weeks, with fields near Sue and George Guille’s tea garden and guest house on the way to Little Sark, in Mermaid Lane and opposite Chris Nightingale’s milking parlour and Reg and Wendy Guille’s home on the road to Maison Pommier at the north end all either planted with vines or under preparation.
The word on the street has it that this expansion will continue with fields adjacent to SEM’s market garden at La Rondellerie on the west coast and other land near La Jaspellerie – near Dixcart Hotel – is also earmarked for the planting of vines, all of which is additional to the substantial acreage planted in previous years.
Many Sark residents, who have no particular axe to grind about SEM’s activities, are now concerned about how much land is being devoted to this venture.
Of at least equal concern is the effect this may have on the availability of hay and grazing for livestock. Foodstuffs for horses for carriage work and cattle for the island’s milk supply are probably as close to essential commodities as it’s possible to get in Sark, whereas – much as I might enjoy it, if or when it finally gets to my cellar – a glass of Sark-produced wine is simply desirable.
I see that a recent Guernsey Press editorial suggested part of Sark’s £3m. in reserves should be spent on importing a permanent police and border agency presence from Guernsey.
Two points arise. The first is that given the cost of manning such facilities, never mind the accommodation infrastructure, that money will dwindle to nothing in no time and no revenue stream has been suggested to replace it.
The second is that it is the easiest thing in the world to be high-minded with other people’s money.
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