Events October 2017

Discussion meetings are held every Sunday in the Library, from 9.15 -10.15am where we are looking at passages from Quaker Faith and Practice, interesting articles from The Friend or any relevant topics

Sunday 1st Shared Lunch after Meeting for Worship

Tuesday 3rd A debate on ‘Ethical business: can it pay?’ at 6pm at OPEN Norwich. Email

Saturday 7th at 10.30 to 12.00 Community Café

Sunday 8th Business Meeting

Tuesday 10th 7.30pm Ipswich Faith and Community Forum session at Co-op Education Centre

Wednesday 11th QQ Discussion Group on Pacifism and Conscientious Objection

Saturday 14th 10am Volunteers needed to do deep cleaning of the kitchen.
Also Regional Multifaith Meeting

Friday Film Night 27th at 7pm – Selma- Martin Luther King and the American civil rights marches

Events October 2017

Newsletter October 2017

Collection this Month

Global Justice Now

Global Justice Now-(was World Development Movement)-working for a more balanced world trading scenario and opposed to TTIP

If you wish to donate but can’t attend at the Meeting House, please send a cheque to Rachel Bach made out to “Ipswich Quakers”. Please send this before the end of the month concerned.


This year passages from Quaker Faith and Practice will alternate monthly with short poems by the American poet Carl Sandburg.

October-QFP- 10.19- In a true community we will not choose our companions. For our choices are so often limited by self-serving motives. Instead, our companions will be given to us by grace. Often they will be persons who will upset our settled view of self and world. In fact, we might define true community as the place where the person you least want to live with always lives! (Parker J. Palmer, 1977).

Film Night
27 October- Selma- Martin Luther King and the American civil rights marches- subtitles

The Quaker Meeting House in Brussels

I was fortunate to spend a few days in Brussels, visiting my son, which included a Sunday so I was able to attend the Quaker Meeting House. It is a beautiful mansion, built at the turn of the 20th century and an Art Nouveau building of architectural distinction. The house has been owned by Quakers since 1985 and is at Square Ambiorix 50, 1000 Brussels.

It has been recently refurbished with the generous support of the City of Brussels. It is occasionally opened to the public as part of the Brussels Patrimony Day. The first floor interiors, restored to their end of century character are glorious, featuring wood panelling, polished wooden floors, and stained-glass windows and doors. Each room is approximately 25 square metres, and partitions can be opened so each room opens into the next: the dining room leading to the Meeting room through to the Margaret Fell lounge. The rooms are available for conferences and informal gatherings which are available to organisations for public and private meetings, and recently a wedding.


The ground floor of the building is home to the offices of the Quaker Council for European Affairs. The Director of QCEA is Andrew Lane a former British policeman and interesting and welcoming man. I was informed that since his arrival two years ago, he has turned the place around to a vibrant Meeting. There were only ten Friends there when I attended but was told it is usually between 20 and 30 and sometimes there are 45 Friends attending. I was also told that one of the attractions is that they have “real” coffee! One of the Friends I spoke to actually came from Capel St Mary originally and attended Ipswich High School but I forgot to ask her name.

The room, which is on the first floor, was set up with chairs around the walls of the room and a second row inside on two of the sides. A small, low table sat in the centre of the room holding about four Quaker Faith and Practice books, a Bible and another couple of books and a lit candle in the middle. The doorkeeper stood downstairs for ten minutes, to assist late comers, and then she went into Meeting. The porch contained shelves and displays of leaflets to be taken. During the Meeting, one Friend ministered on conflict and troubled times and read 19.43 QF&P

A letter from Isaac Penington in 1665 re-echoes Thomas Ellwood’s reminder that we must not despise ‘the day of small things’ (Zech 4:10):

Do not look for such great matters to begin with; but be content to be a child, and let the Father proportion out daily to thee what light, what power, what exercises, what straits, what fears, what troubles he sees fit for thee; and do thou bow before him continually in humility of heart… Thou must join in with the beginnings of life, and be exercised with the day of small things, before thou meet with the great things, wherein is the clearness and satisfaction of the soul. The rest is at noonday; but the travels begin at the breakings of day, wherein are but glimmerings or little light, wherein the discovery of good and evil are not so manifest and certain; yet there must the traveller begin and travel; and in his faithful travels … the light will break in upon him more and more.

The purpose of QCEA is to “promote Quaker values at the European level. We advocate non-violent approaches to conflict resolution, promote policies that respect the intrinsic equality of all people everywhere, and try to ensure that European policy sustains the planet’s resources and the lives of all those who share them”. They have been there since 1979.

Earth Build
Heather and Bon

My mother, Bon’s house is up for sale and along with it is the earth build we built in her garden. The earth building will soon be inaccessible and so a visit was arranged for those interested and who attend Ipswich Meeting.


Tea, squash, cakes, biscuits and snacks were laid on lunchtime Saturday 24th June. We engaged in a pleasurable couple of hours explaining how the earth build studio was constructed via conversation and a PowerPoint presentation I had put together.

The project was originally designed to replace a run down old shed with the earth studio in which Bon could work on her clay modelling. I set some aims for myself having never built such a structure before. I attended a couple of week long courses to educate myself in how to build with earth and straw bale, and now continue to keep in contact with EBUKI (Earth Builders UK and Ireland).

As far as possible all materials were to be recycled or to use what would be deemed waste products.

The windows, bricks and rubble came out of skips. The clay and sand came out of the ground. Straw bales used are an underused by-product of the farming industry. These materials made the walls.

The roof beams are made using green wood from a firewood supplier who otherwise would have cut the lengths to burn. The roof platform was made using off cuts from a timber yard.

The living roof used plastic waste, 2nd hand carpet and the most expensive single item, the pond liner. For the living roof turf was cut from Bon’s lawn.

The earth mixes that made the walls and floor were all foot trod, an arduous process hard on the joints and heavy work. The clay render mixed with pigment of my choice and the lime render coated on with very little previous experience.

Interior Clay sculptured Render

Books were our building companions helping to solve some of the problems we came up against. Each stage was taken on a step by step problem solving exercise.

What did I discover in building such a studio?

Two people and a level with very little building experience can build a brick wall made from recycled materials that takes several tonnes of soil in weight. That they can also make the structure light inside, beautiful inside, beautiful outside, water tight and durable.

My research and experience in earth building over the years has led me to ask. Is this a type of technology we should be considering using more of in our mainstream housing stock, considering its low carbon footprint? The answer I have arrived at is: that it is most definitely is a solution that should be adopted and more widespread than it currently is. The mainstream building industry needs to look at the carbon footprint it makes and adjust the materials, transport and design of the large structures accordingly. The new way of working with earth mixes in buildings and the new technologies developed to work with this environmentally friendly material have been tested and passed health and safety and building regulation requirements.

Spread the word.

Thanks to our friends who came and shared such a pleasant afternoon.
Treasured Times.

QQ Discussion Group
Anne Seward

Our monthly Wednesday discussion groups continue apace. We had 25 people attend our last session on Douglas Harding, Who Was He? What is Headlessness?
Although I am not sure that many questions were answered to full knowledge of the subject, we all had a very interesting and challenging discussion. Mike King Led the evening, informing us of his spiritual journey in which Douglas Harding played a large part. Anne Seward, a friend and workshop leader of Headlessness with Douglas, gave a couple of examples of the exercises in order for those gathered to experience it. It is not a “heady” or academic or theological knowledge, it is more an experiential way of being. For more information check out where you can find out more about Douglas Harding and also the experiments of being headless.

The Douglas Harding session held on 13th September, gratefully introduced by Mike King was an interesting and lively event from my perspective which highlighted two very different spiritual proclivities.

Some years ago I conducted a short Douglas-type workshop for SIFRE (as it was then) which Mike attended. It got back to me afterwards that he had put it about that “there was something missing”. I was reminded of this when he said the same thing on Wednesday about Douglas’ wife Catherine. This caused me to think that, following a devotional path, he would probably feel the same way about anyone (with the exception of Douglas presumably!) who was attempting to utilise the jnana-type experiments to convey their message to others, which Douglas so strongly encouraged people to do.

As should be obvious, the appeal of the experiments is to truth and is not based on a guru-disciple set-up. Mike’s comments are thus rather ironic when one considers how absolutely central Douglas himself considered them to be to his teaching, not least because, like scientific experiments, they are essentially repeatable by anybody, irrespective of that person’s spiritual maturity, not to mention their charisma or lack thereof.

On a different note, I hope it was obvious to the participants on Wednesday that, while the experiments may be new, the claims they put to the test of observation (for instance – all the senses may be deployed in a longer workshop) are deeply traditional in nature.

And lastly, let me emphasise that glimpsing one’s True Nature represents only the first step on this particular path of Self-knowledge. The challenge then is to practice, practice, practice the ‘wakefulness’ implied by whatever means you find helpful until it becomes – as it was in infancy but now with full consciousness – one’s natural way of being.

Newsletter October 2017


Discussion meetings are held every Sunday in the Library, from 9.15 -10.15am where we are looking at passages from Quaker Faith and Practice, interesting articles from The Friend or any relevant topics

Saturday 2nd at 10.30 to 12.00 Community Café

Sunday 3rd Shared Lunch after Meeting for Worship

Sunday 10th Business Meeting

Wednesday 13th QQ Discussion Group – Mike King asks Who was Douglas Harding? What was headlessness?

Friday 22nd Film Night at 7pm Blackfish

Sunday 24th at 2pm Area Meeting at Woodbridge


Newsletter September 2017


Collection this Month

Friends of Hlekweni Zambia- working with local farmers to improve their skills and crops.
If you wish to donate but can’t attend at the Meeting House, please send a cheque to Rachel Bach made out to “Ipswich Quakers”. Please send this before the end of the month concerned.


This year passages from Quaker Faith and Practice will alternate monthly with short poems by the American poet Carl Sandburg.

Glass House Canticle
Bless Thee, O Lord, for the living arc of the sky over me this
Bless Thee , O Lord, for the companionship of night mist far
above the skyscraper peaks I saw when I woke once
during the night.
Bless Thee, O Lord, for the miracle of light to my eyes and
the mystery of it ever changing.
Bless Thee, O Lord, for the laws Thou hast ordained holding
fast these tall oblongs of stone and steel, holding fast the
planet earth in its course and farther beyond the cycle of
the Sun.
Carl Sandburg.

Film Night is 22 September- Blackfish- documentary about the treatment of performing and captive orcas- no subtitles.

Trip to the Mosque
Izzy Lane

On arrival we were greeted outside the mosque, shown to seats in a marquee and offered a drink of orange juice. Given it was still some time to sunset, it seemed almost unkind to accept a drink from somebody that I knew was fasting, and hadn’t taken a drink for the last 14 hours!

Once we’d all signed in, and been given a gift of books, we were shown into the mosque. As is customary on entering a mosque, we were asked to remove our shoes and leave them in a rack by the door. As I’d been wearing open sandals all day, I did wonder if my feet were actually much cleaner than my shoes! We were then ushered up a few steps and into the main prayer hall. I noticed several flat screens, giving details of times for prayers and the amount donated to various charities. As prayer times are all based around the sun’s movement, they change as the year progresses, so reminders are much needed. Until I read some of the literature we’d been given, I hadn’t realised that Muslims are encouraged to give money to charity during Ramadan. Rather than giving a proportion of income, Muslims are asked to give 2.5% of wealth worth over 85g of gold that has been held for more than one lunar year. Although, voluntary donations are also acceptable as a person desires to give.

In the main prayer hall, a number of people spoke about a variety of topics. With the various events in London, these followed fairly standard items on our thoughts being with people who’d been injured and the families and friends of those who had lost loved ones. The speeches finished in time for people to break their fast, and we were all offered some dates and a bottle of water. The non-Muslims in the hall were then asked to move to the back of the room, while the men gathered for their prayers. At this point, there seemed to suddenly be a lot more people in the prayer hall and, while the prayers were being said, more arrived and took their place at the back of the congregation. Muslims are expect to perform a set number of rounds of salutations and protestations so any late arrivals who’d missed the first one or two simply carried on at the end until they had completed the full set.

Although women do not have the same obligation as men to attend the mosque for prayers, there were a few in the prayer hall. When the time for prayers started, they moved to one side, away from the men. I was somewhat disappointed to see the area they used for their prayers was gloomy and very plainly decorated compared to the main part of the prayer hall. Whenever I read anything about Islam, there always seems to be an emphasis on how women have equality with men, but that theoretical equality never seems to me to translate into practical equality.

Once the prayers had been completed, we all went back outside, to the marquee, where we were served a meal of rice, chicken curry, samosa and dahl. It was very tasty. Again, I was impressed that the non-fasting guests were served before our hosts had their meal. Given this event was meant to be building bridges between Muslims and non-Muslims, I was slightly disappointed that most of the Muslims went elsewhere (and I’m not sure where) to eat their meal. However, I was able to speak – at some length – to one chap about the mosque, local Muslims and Islam, while we ate our meals.

Overall, I found the trip worthwhile, and visiting the mosque interesting.

Basque Child Refugees In Suffolk.

Eric Walker

Last Saturday took place at the head office of the East of England Co-op a moving ceremony. A plaque was unveiled to commemorate that it is 80 years since 100 child refugees ( out of a total 4,000) from the Spanish Civil War stayed at Wherstead Hall on the banks of the River Orwell. The British Government had at first refused permission ( shades of today with the Syrian child refugees) but under immense pressure gave in and allowed entry. The use of the hall was given by local landowner Stuart Paul. People of Suffolk rallied round and raised funds to provide whatever was needed. The Ipswich Co-op provided free bread every day for the children at Wherstead and also when they moved on to other locations at Wickham Market etc. One of this children, then aged 11, returned for this ceremony and told of how life was for them. By co-incidence it was my wife’s mother and aunt who organised things in Suffolk!. But this little incident shows how the Co-operative Movement, and this happened throughout Britain, played a great role, as it has done in many other community situations and continues to do so today. You do not get this degree of help for the local community from the great retail chains such as Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury, Aldi, Lidl, etc.
Here in Suffolk we have the East of England Co-op which nowadays has a good choice of food in its shops. They plug Fair trade items to a great extent and it has been revealed that recently they gave £3000 to each of 3 local charities which are helping with refugees from the Middle East. They have fine large stores at Felixstowe, Woodbridge, Wickham Market and possibly other towns, as well as many local convenience stores. Please make an effort to visit them and so support local co-operative enterprise

Bressingham Trip

Ipswich Quakers organised an outing to Bressingham, the steam museum and gardens started by Alan Bloom, a Quaker. There were 12 of us. Virginia kindly drove us there, Eric, my friend Kathy and me, and when we arrived we soon lost Eric, who was more interested in the trains than the flowers. Virginia and I walked ahead and went to the Foggy Bottom garden and were enchanted by all the trees and shrubs in different shapes and shades of green, whereas the other part was vibrant with colour and unusual flowers.

Later we went for rides on two of the little trains. Some of us had a ride on the carousel too. It was a brilliant day out, suitable for all ages.


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Newsletter September 2017

Events August 2017

Discussion meetings are held every Sunday in the Library, from 9.15 -10.15am where we are looking at passages from Quaker Faith and Practice, interesting articles from The Friend or any relevant topics

Saturday 5th at 10.30 to 12.00 Community Café

Sunday 6th Shared Lunch after Meeting for Worship

No Business Meeting this month

Wednesday 9th QQ Discussion Group with

Saturday 12th Garden Party for hirers and

Friday 25th Film Night at 7pm The Crucible

Events August 2017

Newsletter August 2017


Collection this Month

Quaker Service in Northern Ireland- an inter-faith initiative with a cottage where those involved can stay.

If you wish to donate but can’t attend at the Meeting House, please send a cheque to Rachel Bach made out to “Ipswich Quakers”. Please send this before the end of the month concerned.


A Friends’ meeting for worship finds no room for debate or for answering(still less contradicting)one another; if this is desirable it will be left for another occasion. And if anything should seem to be spoken amiss, the spiritually minded worshipper will have the wit to get at the heart of the message, overlooking crudity and lack of skill in its presentation, and so far from giving way to irritation at what seems unprofitable, he will be deeply concerned for his own share in creating the right spiritual atmosphere in which the harm fades out and the good grows. Many a meeting has known this power, transforming what might have been hurtful into a means of grace.
(A. Neave Braysham, 1921) QFP 2.69

Film Evening: 25 August at 7pm The Crucible– film version of the famous play about the Salem witch trials- subtitles

Sunday Service On Easter Island, 26th February 2017
Richard Stewart with photos by Anne-Marie.

We were fortunate to arrive safely at the church and on time. The taxi from our hotel couldn’t be ordered in advance and at the reception we were told that it might not arrive because they were busy with the passengers on board a Japanese Peace ship docked near the harbour. The taxi did arrive but in a flurry, the driver so anxious to get going that he started up when Marie had just one leg in the taxi. Only her cries stopped him.
The richly decorated church was in the main settlement of Hanga Roa and it was fortuitous that we were early. Probably over four hundred were there, with many having to stand in the aisles: a mixture of ages, both tourists and residents. We had been advised that this 9 am service would be the only one in the native tongue of Rapanui. Initially we found ourselves in front of two ‘gadget fiddlers’ so moved across and ended up behind a Ronnie Wood lookalike with a topknot-traditional island fashion and on top of some statues-with a red bandana, who seemed to be talking incessantly to a man in a hibiscus flowered shirt. We had been told beforehand that the dress code was definitely joyous and bright. Many of the congregation had noticeable Polynesian profiles, with some of the women wearing bright flower pattern dresses and flowers in their hair. A few could have stepped right out of a Gauguin painting.
At about five to nine a woman gave a garbled reading, probably from the Bible, in Rapanui and not once looking up to engage with the congregation. ‘Red bandanna man’ talked throughout this reading.
By now a large projection appeared on the front walk, asking for mobile phones to be turned off and no photos to be taken. Marie noticed it was sponsored by Hitachi. This projection was also used for the words of hymns and responses, most of which were indecipherable to us except for odd words like ‘Hosannah’ and ‘Ave Maria’.
Then suddenly, as the church bell rang, it all came alive. The priest moved from where we had entered the church, carrying a cross and with attendants in white, mainly women. They ended up facing the congregation which gave everyone the opportunity to admire the priest’s incredible costume of white vestments, and a green over-garment richly decorated with shells plus bird, flower and maize motifs. He had a pink flower garland around his neck and a headdress, mainly golden, but topped with tall white feathers. He looked remarkably similar to portraits of Atahuallpa, the last Inca Emperor. At one point Marie got worried as he knelt very close to the lit candles.
The service itself was a rich mixture of Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Pagan, Rapanui and even some strains of the famous African sanctus. The words of the first hymn now appeared on the wall and Richard suddenly realised that sometimes there are reasons for talking at the start of a service. ‘Red bandana man’ suddenly arose and, standing in a Maori-like posture, beating two stones together, he began with a magnificent voice to lead us into singing the first hymn. We joined in as best we could and now realised that this row consisted of musicians and choir, with guitar, banjo, drum, shells , a horn and two large jawbones joined together, still with teeth and probably from a horse. The congregation responded with joyous rhythmic singing .We did manage to pick out the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed, with Holy Communion later on. The priest gave a sermon, which appeared to have some humour, for about fifteen minutes and during one hymn we all joined hands across the aisles. Marie held the hand of a very friendly and totally unembarrassed teenage boy.
At the end of this hour long service everyone went round shaking hands and smiling. Once most of the congregation had left the cameras came out for photos of the musicians, who posed as they played a few extra verses. We noticed that some of the elderly residents stayed on afterwards, to pray, chant and sing. The priest also let us take photos and we then spent some time closely examining the various wooden statues and cross within the church, noticing how the pagan ‘birdman cult’ once dominant on the island , had been subtly incorporated into many sculptures.
It was certainly a moving and memorable service and a good opportunity for us to experience a very different form of worship to our normal one.

Helena Woddis

For most people, a prison is an unknown world, a place of mystery, and rather frightening. Television programmes show us the most terrifying scenes of smuggled drugs, corruption and violence; which is perhaps why people actually seem very curious about this hidden world.

And that is why, when my Quaker Meeting mentioned that a representative was needed to go into local prisons to support any men there with Quaker interests, I allowed my arm to be gently twisted, and took up the challenge. I was timorous, but full of curiosity.

The title Chaplain sits uneasily with us Quakers.. We are all “ministers” and our ministry, alongside the Meeting for Worship, is largely in sharing the roles and tasks necessary for running our non-hierarchical Society, and extending our Testimonies, through action, into the world at large. I had no sense of a calling, or even a capacity to take on the role of Quaker Chaplain….but I knew someone should do it, and I had the time and liberty . So when my name was put forward and accepted for the job, I took it, feeling inadequate, but excited too.

My very first task was to meet my boss, the Managing Chaplain in the Open Prison, and explain to him what a Quaker is. He, a very spiritual young Muslim Imam, had some difficulty in accepting that I had not been trained to preach and lead others in prayer, and that my beliefs were in an inner personal connection with “God”, and not written inexorably in an ancient book.

Nonetheless, after three months or so, my complex official application to become a Prison Chaplain was accepted by the Home Office, and I was in!

Three and half years ago, when I arrived there, HMP Hollesley Bay, the Open Category D prison, had no Quakers. The Young Offenders Unit at Warren Hill was closing down, and was eventually re-opened as a Progressive category C Prison, closed, but with a therapeutic community in one of its units.

Here at last I had something to do, as Warren Hill slowly filled, and a sole Quaker arrived. He has gone through the three years of therapy, with group work or Psychodrama every morning, and work in the gardens in the afternoon. He has now been 23 years behind bars, though he is only 42 years old. His story, or something similar is common amongst offenders. Given up as an infant by his mother, adopted by strictly religious parents, intelligent and creative but not happy at school, full of supressed anger and loneliness, he somehow fell into crime to vent his overwhelming feelings of worthlessness. He became an alcoholic and an arsonist. Now, institutionalised, a calm gentle and rather innocent man who writes good poetry, he demands little of life, and claims that he doesn’t really mind if he stays in prison for the rest of his life. I wondered if his spirit had been entirely broken, but his poems, and his joy at finishing therapy, say otherwise.

Since this man arrived, there has been a small but steady trickle of Quaker sympathisers, and today there are three in each prison. I try to see them all on a fortnightly basis…………..but in the Open Prison, thank heaven, the men are kept busy. Two of those in Hollesley Bay work outside. They have curfews and roll calls but in the daytime they are bussed to work outside, wherever if can be found for them, as part of their preparation for release. Two of them are now attending Woodbridge Quaker Meeting on Sunday, and have discovered the joy of being received with warmth and without judgement, in the true spirit of Friends.

There are three men now in HMP Warren Hill too, who meet with me regularly to talk about their progress, their interests, and to sit in silence for half an hour. I don’t push my beliefs upon them. I usually read a piece from Quaker Faith and practice, and often a poem. There is no further ministry from the man yet, but each of them have expressed love of the silence, and their sense of being supported by Friends.

Prison time is slow and cumbersome, requests may not be answered for weeks, or not at all. Staff at all levels and in all branches of the prison community, as well as the men themselves, will tell you that life is very frustrating, and one has little hope of hurrying things along. Its called “prison time”. This is due to the fact that the cumbersome Home Office, together with the Ministry of Justice etc, make final decisions on many issues.

But by contrast, something I have discovered is something the prisoners I see already know: which is that the Society of Friends will try not let them down. Several of them discovered Quakerism in Grendon Prison, where a full and well attended Meeting for Worship happens at least weekly and all can attend. Since then (and prisoners are frequently moved from place to place) they have all been befriended somewhere by a Quaker “chaplain”, and have stayed in regular touch. We too, the chaplains, have a warm and committed network, with a keen co-ordinator solely responsible for furthering our contacts. We also have an annual conference at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre, and an email group where we can share concerns and achievements. I have a very slow but steady flow of emails and phone calls from other chaplains, enquiring about men I see whom they have supported practically and emotionally elsewhere, and it is really good to hear from them and pass on their messages.

In this sense, though Quakers rejects titles, that of Chaplain begins to sit more easily on my shoulders. The dictionary insist that the word refers to a member of the clergy, or to a Christian priest, but in prison it doesn’t. A “chaplain” can represent any faith or practice, and the Pagan group, for example, is growing fast. We don’t talk much with each other about our beliefs. We don’t have time for that, for the chaplains are few, the admin is demanding and the funding is being cut. Things aren’t easy, and I sometimes feel very frustrated by the system which seems not to support what I am wanting to do , but I am beginning to value and enjoy what little I have achieved, and can see that it is in a sense a ministry. And the support from Quakers, both locally and nationally, for prisoners and chaplains, is heart-warming and very encouraging . The experience continues to deepen my Quaker convincement.

Poems Submitted by Marion.

Look to this day,
For yesterday is already a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision,
But today, well lived,
Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Death is not the end of life
Experience and birth was not
The beginning. One will never
Cease to be because one is
An expression of eternal
(Hicks 2006/8).

Newsletter August 2017


Collection this Month

Freedom From Torture- which has emphasis on therapy sessions with traumatised refugees, involving sessions of art, music, drama and creative writing.

If you wish to donate but can’t attend at the Meeting House, please send a cheque to Rachel Bach made out to “Ipswich Quakers”. Please send this before the end of the month concerned.


This year passages from Quaker Faith and Practice will alternate monthly with short poems by the American poet Carl Sandburg.

Primer Lesson
Look out how you use proud words.
When you let proud words go, it is
Not easy to call them back.
They wear long boots, hard boots; they
walk off proud; they can’t hear you
Look out how you use proud words.

Carl Sandburg.

Film Evening: 28 July- “Agora” .

This film is set in Alexandria, Egypt, in 391 AD and explores the relationship between the pagan rulers and the increasing numbers of Christians. The film has subtitles too.

Films coming up:

  • 28 July- Agora – set in Alexandria, Egypt, 391 AD and exploring the relationship between pagan rulers and increasing numbers of Christians-subtitles
  • 25 August- The Crucible- film version of the famous play about the Salem witch trials- subtitles
  • 22 September- Blackfish- documentary about the treatment of performing and captive orcas- no subtitles
  • 27 October- Selma- Martin Luther King and the American civil rights marches- subtitles
  • 24 November- The Boy With The Striped Pyjamas- exploring the growing friendship between the son of a Nazi death camp commandant and a boy inside the fence- subtitles
  • 15 December- Quartet- lightening the atmosphere with a very positive film about old age- retired opera singers in a home, plus a superb soundtrack- subtitles

Quaker Quest Discussion Group May 2017 – “Journey of a Lifer”

Mr Cornish attended the Ipswich Quaker Meeting House on Wednesday evening and gave a talk concerning his life sentence prison journey and his research into the Kings Fund Dying Rooms.

There was lively, relative questioning as the talk progressed toward discussion groups being set up and posed with the dilemma of “Can there ever be such a thing as a “good death for a life-sentence prisoner in a secure prison environment?”

There were about 25 people in attendance and after the discussion topic feedback was given by each group. The general consensus was that there has to be security but also dignity being upheld at the same time but it would be hard to uphold the balance of both due to environmental cultures and constraints.

The evening was closed by a short true story to change the topic area from its discussion subject to a lighter hearted mood.

Mr Cornish thanked all for their presence and contributions and says that he is always approachable in the future when attending meetings: in case anyone even wants to ask a question in either discussion sphere from the evening’s talk.
Stan Cornish

Journey of a Lifer

Stanley is at “Lifer” at H.M.P. Hollesley Bay, which is a D category open prison. Stan, who is around 6o, has reached the end of his tariff. (The minimum amount of time he must serve, though his “life” sentence is longer)

Stanley managed to get leave to come and hear Tim Newell speaking about Restorative Justice at the Friends Meeting House, and on that occasion offered to come and talk to us. We already had a forum for this, as Quaker Quest appealed so much to our meeting that we have continued it indefinitely, inviting speakers from many backgrounds to come and open our minds a little with their stories.

Stanley is hoping to be released by the end of this year, and is keen to establish contacts, friendships, and support systems in the community. In fact he now attends Woodbridge Meeting, with two other Hollesley Bay men, every Sunday. I think he saw the talk as a good way of making an impact….and he did. It was intriguing, different, and at times gruelling, and the faces around the circle of Friends were often genuinely pained for Stan and his fellow prisoners. He is an enthusiast and a story-teller by nature, not afraid to put himself forward and ask for whatever he requires, and charming with it: he has engaged many people in trying to get his needs met as he prepares for release.

The talk took us through prison life and Stan’s progress away from despair and into study. He vowed to save himself from a meaningless life behind bars, and over the years has collected an impressive cv of study courses, largely directed towards therapy and counselling, but also practical courses like Braille translation. He claims that the Quakers, through the Shaw trust, have supported him financially through this long course of study, and he is very grateful to the Society, and was keen to encourage us to go out and get involved in things that are important to prisoners, especially as Prison Reform is one of our areas of concern.

One issue of special interest to Stan, because he is himself a cancer sufferer, is that of terminal illness and death within the prison system. He took the course in Dignity in Dying, and talked vividly to us of his fear of being sent off to a specialist hospital prison (he tells us there are three in the UK) where he will be apportioned a “dying room”, away from family, friends and jail mates, and away from his cell, which at present is the only “home” he has. Offenders who need medical or surgical interventions, when they are admitted to public hospitals, are always attended by one or two prison officers and are handcuffed onto a 6 foot chain. All ablutions and toilet needs are carried out in this condition, sometimes with only a curtain for privacy. Sometimes the officers (who may be of either sex), will remain present and not even turn away, thus depriving the prisoner of normal dignity. Stan expressed anger and disgust at what he himself had suffered, and returned to the one real conflict for those who work with the seriously ill in custody: how can the balance be kept between the human right of the prisoner to dignity in dying, and the right of the public to be kept safe from harm by men and women who have committed crimes in the past and may be capable of doing so again.

At this point in the evening, we divided into smaller groups in order to wrangle with this dilemma. It was an eye-opening experience, as we realised that an offender might be a risk to himself, as well as to the public, and that even at the moment of death some people are capable of surprising physical and destructive energy. We returned to the main group without resolving the conflict, but with much food for thought.

And Stan returned to Hollesley Bay to await his Parole Board in September.

Helena Woddis

From an attender at Stan’s Talk “Journey of a Lifer”

Thanks for last night, it was really excellent. I think the Quakers are unique in both attracting speakers from backgrounds and experiences who would not comfortably appear elsewhere, and in that their open inclusive format allows free and powerful expression for them (both points probably amount to the same thing). I am thinking also of Andrea Needham and the talk you have coming up too from Bal Kaur.
From our point of view it allows us to hear a wholly new perspective on things which can only come from you such speakers who have lived differently and are able to articulate it. So we are hearing something wholly new and then able to reflect and discuss it.

In Stan’s case, apart from the main thrust of his story, it is remarkable to think of someone being academic in isolation. Most people are doing it in an environment where they are, whether they realise or not, absorbing much from contact with others. There are pros and cons there of course! Obviously the internet helps to temper the distinction, although presumably use of that is also controlled and monitored in prison? I would be grateful if you could pass this message on to him if you can as I read the rest of his handout when I got home.

There are two more sections we could not cover on ‘Words in Death’ and ‘Hegemonic and Discursive Power’ which had some resonance for me and my interests of late. The former referenced directly Native American thinking which is interesting but the latter seemed to reference not only that (symbolism) but also Sartre and existentialism to a degree that I would be very interested to know, given my comments, whether it was conscious reference. Not just the topics but even the phrase ‘things- in –themselves’ (Sartre: ‘etre en-soi’) not ‘producing knowledge’ but ‘the discourse of them’ doing so. I hope he also got back in time for his ‘exit pass’ time which I think was 10.30!
Ant Wooding

The Long Life Of Hilary Thomas

When Marie and I first started attending the Ipswich Quakers in the early 1990’s Hilary and her husband Charles were established members, seen by us as ‘weighty Quakers’. Hilary came from an artistic family and at school was encouraged, in those days of restricted female activities, to play lacrosse and enjoy many artistic activities. Once when she won an art prize it went to financing riding lessons. Hilary was a Froebel trained teacher and she and Charles had already taught outside Suffolk, Charles in a Quaker school. Charles then went to teach at Woolverstone Hall and they lived nearby in ‘The Holt’. By then Hilary had two daughters, Caroline the oldest and Cathy, who was about five and a half when they moved to Woolverstone in early 1957. Hilary subsequently taught at Amberfield and the Ipswich High School for Girls, which ironically, at a much later date, moved to Woolverstone Hall. Hilary was the founder, with a friend, of a playgroup at nearby Shotley and this subsequently moved to the village hall at Woolverstone. Such was the demand that an overflow had to be arranged in a village house. Andrew Sterling remembers his daughter Anna being part of this group and this early learning through play included involvement in the early days of the Pre-School Playgroups Association. This developed to a point where Hilary moved on to be their area organiser, using buses and trains to visit new groups starting up and offer advice as appropriate. She did eventually pass her driving test, in an ‘automatic’ car, at the age of seventy.

She and Charles were very active members of the Ipswich Quakers, not just regular attenders but in Hilary’s case being a doorkeeper, looking after the children and acting as an Overseer. Angela Schultz, who arrived as the warden early in 1983, remembered that Hilary was her Overseer and her practical concern extended to providing bunk beds for Angela’s young children when they first moved in. After the death of Charles Hilary eventually moved to a smaller house at nearby Chelmondiston and I can remember, from our visits, a wonderful colourful garden that she enjoyed. Her move was in 2003, at the age of ninety, which didn’t stop her joining the over-sixties club. She was by then finding it increasingly difficult to last the whole hour of our Meetings for Worship, so she started coming in halfway through and eventually stopped attending. She was also by then ninety five and further away, having moved to Oak House on the edge of Stutton in 2008. Her daughter Cathy soon got her moved from a room with limited light to a sunnier downstairs one, next to the garden. On one of our visits she expressed her disappointment at being discouraged from feeding the birds, just as lumps of white bread came down from the room above.

Initially we visited Hilary in groups of five or six and followed a routine of arriving about eleven, having drinks and biscuits, poetry readings- more of that later-then a short Meeting for Worship and saying goodbye after we had accompanied her to lunch. This was just long enough not to exhaust and disorientate her. However, as her eyesight, hearing and memory deteriorated, we restricted numbers to two or three, who had known Hilary for a long time i.e. Andrew Sterling whose mother was with Hilary at the Ipswich Quakers, Lydia with her dog and Frances who lived nearby. Hilary was always welcoming and interested in our personal lives as well as the progress of our Quaker Meeting. Even in her last days, when she found it increasingly difficult to remember who we were, she continued to surprise us. On one visit Marie and I were almost transfixed by her bright red nails, which she had agreed to have painted on by one of her helpers. Her room decorations included several of her own paintings and her love of nature and the countryside was represented by a series of ‘toys’ representing different birds, which when squeezed produced a remarkably accurate call. There were also several cards with bird photos and when opened they gave their individual songs. I always tried the nightingale one. Incidentally Hilary also wrote an unpublished book for children- Lydia can send an email copy to anyone interested.

Hilary also loved poetry, as could be seen from the volumes in her book collection. Whenever we visited we read poems by her two favourites, Walter de la Mare and Gerard Manley Hopkins. Until a few years before her death she knew almost every word of a long de la Mare poem and often joined in with lines from Hopkins poems such as ‘Spring’, ‘Pied Beauty’ and ‘The Woodlark’. On our last visit, just before her 103rd birthday late December 2016, she could still remember several lines from a Christmas poem Marie read to her. Hilary was able to see her great grandson but increasingly became frail and disorientated, falling over several times and finally suffering a dislocated pelvis. She died peacefully in her bed at Oak House on 2nd May 2017.
Four of us from Ipswich Quakers joined her family and friends at the Oakfields Wood Green Burial site in Wrabness, where her funeral included a very full life history and several readings, including poetry. It was a hot day with birds singing and a blue butterfly dancing nearby. On the next day, 26th May, a meeting to celebrate her life was held at our Friends’ Meeting House in Ipswich, attended by several of her family. This was a less formal occasion, allowing several who had known Hilary for a long time to recount tales from her long life, many of them amusing. I also read a favourite Hopkins poem, ‘God’s Grandeur’. Perhaps my abiding memory will be of Hilary on the occasion of a 100th birthday party held at Oak House. Dressed up for the occasion she sat almost regally at the entrance door, which enabled her without undue exertion to welcome all visitors and engage them in conversation. She was a lovely lady and Marie and I will miss our visits to see her. I will always remember her when I read a Hopkins poem or listen to the incredible song of a nightingale.
Richard Stewart.


Hilary with Marie, Andrew and Richard

Hilary’s Favourite Paintings

On the left Hilary’s Flowers
On the right Hilary’s Still Life