Mr Gunn is interviewed by Children of St Peter’s CE Primary School
As a group of four, people from the school council met to decide some questions to ask Mr Gunn for the festival.
What do you think of when you hear the word rainbow?
Mr Gunn said, “Cycling in Scotland because it always rains and when he was cycling there this year as part of a charity ride -you could always see rainbows. I think they also remind me of the hard work and dedication of everyone who kept going during COVID from the NHS to shop workers.”
What is something you have missed during Covid-19?
Mr Gunn said, “Being able to see my family and friends. I have friends and family all over the country and also America. I also really missed seeing everyone at Christmas and New Year. It was our turn for the New Year fancy dress party last year. It was the first time in 30 year that I have not spent New Year with my friends from school.”
What does this festival mean to you?
Mr Gunn said,” Bringing our community back together and that perhaps it will be the start of a bit of normality.”
What do you want for next year?
Mr Gunn said, “I want the school to be able to do all the things that make it special- but you struggle to do in bubbles. Things like trips, sports fixtures, church services, whole school worship, not to have to teach via Zoom and singing in school.”
What was hard during covid-19?
Mr Gunn said, “Keeping people safe and the uncertainty of that goes with this. Also seeing people struggling and not being able to help as much as we would have liked too. On the positive of that I also saw the resilience of people and what a fantastic staff we have at our school. They really stepped up to make sure the children got as much as they could from school. Not once did anyone in school ever say no. It made me very proud.”
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What do rainbows mean to you?
“I’m going to be very ‘vicarish’ and go straight for the story of Noah and his Ark and the rainbow and the end of the flood. As that was the point that God had promised to not send something so catastrophic to the Earth again. So it means hope, I suppose and peace of mind. Among the other things that rainbows mean to the rest of us and diversity and things like that.”
Why is the festival important to you?
“I think the festival is important to all of us mainly as a demonstration of our community and cohesiveness as a church and school and village; it combines all these things. Yes, it’s fabulous when it raises so much money for us all to share and put to good use but primarily I see it as a ‘coming together’ of all the community and working together and that’s an inspiring thing to see in this day and age.”
How will, or has, the festival benefitted you?
“When you say 'you', I presume you mean the whole church. Well, as I said, money is really nice and the church is an expensive building to run but particularly, if we want to use money to help other people we need to get that money from somewhere, so that’s nice. But actually, again, it is about people coming together and people that very often, you know, parents from the school and particularly many older people from the church don’t often get a chance to meet. Maybe we should make more opportunities for them to chat.”
How has this year been different?
“In about as many ways as you can possibly think of! Urm… it’s been different because being a Christian is about being part of a community. A family of God that meets in this place and of course, for large parts of the year, we haven’t been able to do that, we haven’t been able to gather at all. And so we have had to find new ways of coming together as a church and we have done all the things that everyone has done: Livestreaming, recording services and doing lots of communication via social media. It’s not the same but at the same time it has encouraged people, who don’t normally come into the building, to come into the church. We’ve had people worshipping with us in the St. Peter’s community. We’ve had people from Germany and Yorkshire and I think Canada once and also from in the Greater Brentwood community so, yes, it’s been not all grim but it’s been positive in some ways that people who find it difficult to cross the church doorway, the church threshold have felt able to join us on social media. And that’s about everything."
What has been the greatest challenge of this year?
“Of all that? I think that ways of keeping together and communicating with everyone because not everyone has email so there has been telephone communication and that’s not always been from me to individuals that’s been from other members of the church and that’s obviously a really positive thing. So it’s not always about the vicar and everyone else but it is about everyone else as a community. There have been phone calls, there has been knocks on people’s doors to make sure they are safe and have everything they need. Then obviously, standing back at the doorstep and talking from a social distance. Everything that you have come across while you’ve been at school."
What are your hopes for next year?
“I think we all hope for a bit or normality, don’t we?! One of things I miss the most is the opportunity to touch other people and shake hands. When I come out of church at the end of the service, I would come up the South Aisle and high-five all of the little children. And I haven’t been able to do that. And that’s a real sadness. It is part of doing what we do and being who we are is that we express our enjoyment in each other’s company and we hope to do some more of that."
Reverend Jane Bradbury is interviewed by Children of St Peter’s CE Primary School