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I’ve been watching the Invictus Games on television – the paralympic-style event for wounded, injured or sick armed forces personnel and ex-personnel, which this year has happened in Florida. Such amazing courage, dedication and levels of achievement which I categorically could not manage, even though theoretically able-bodied. It’s impressive and inspiring.
I’ve also been captivated by the two programmes covering the formation and performance at the Opening Ceremony of the Invictus Choir, also made up of injured, wounded and sick ex-armed forces personnel, all of whom have significant physical or mental health problems as a result of their service experiences. The initiative was led by Gareth Malone at the request of Prince Harry and I found the story quite overwhelmingly moving. There was an honesty in sharing experiences and feelings, an acknowledgement of vulnerability and a willingness to work hard at producing an excellent performance despite the fact that, for some choir members at least, singing was not their major skill! But the additional factor for me, was that, although they had all been armed forces personnel, they were from different ranks, with different backgrounds, of different ages, had served in different conflicts and for different periods of time. They were prepared to work together across their differences for the sake of those elements they had in common, and in order to get the story out. And the result was impressive.
Our community of Goodmayes is also hugely varied. There are two upcoming events that I’d like to draw your attention to: the first is our celebration of the Queen’s birthday on 12th June. It falls on our regular Messy Church Sunday so will take the shape of Messy Church, with craft activities (both messy and more delicate) beginning at 4pm in the Community Centre, followed by a short act of worship at around 5.15pm and ending with a “birthday tea”! Messy Church is also about coming together beyond difference. It gives us the opportunity to learn, worship and celebrate together across the generations, while welcoming those who don’t feel particularly comfortable in an ordinary church service. I hope you will feel able to join us as we honour the great contribution that our Queen, in so many ways a focus of unity, has made to our national life.
The second event is the Goodmayes Community Festival that will happen on Sunday 17th July – get it in your diary. It’s an opportunity to meet those neighbours we don’t usually meet, in a relaxed environment, and to enjoy being together. Please come and give it your support. If members of the Invictus Choir could come together with all the challenges they have faced …