Written by Rev Tom Ringland
I have a sense we all need something to cheer us up as the year draws to a close and 2024 beckons!
At home it’s raining and abroad people are fighting and far too many are dying – and this all adds to - and aggravates something now defined as ‘SAD’ – “seasonal affective disorder”: where the dark, cold, wet season makes us feel depressed.
There are a number of things we can do to counter this negative mood and to lift our spirits!
We can choose to stay active – (‘armchair aerobics’ at home is great, if we are less mobile these days).
We can stay in touch with people - something that’s mutually beneficial, as both they and we enjoy the contact. Sending Christmas cards to rarely contacted friends and relatives has died somewhat with the cost of postage and the advent of email, but is still a nice thing to consider.
One of the best activities for staying positive is singing. And of course, we have great opportunities in our churches at Christmas to sing the story through our well-loved carols. Indeed, the Church of England’s invitation this Christmas is to “Join the Song”.
In the Bible accounts, we read of the shepherds returning to the hillsides after visiting the manger: “(They) went back, singing praises to God for all they had heard and seen; it had been just as the angel had told them.” (Luke 2 verse 20 – Good News Bible).
Singing is fantastic at lifting the spirits, and in our carol services we sing of the great hope for the world through the birth of Christ – we come from often dark days into brightly lit spaces, with familiar tunes and good company. If there’s some mulled wine or a mince pie, so much the better!
Singing may of itself be good therapy in an otherwise dispiriting time of year, but the songs of Christmas are even more so, because they remind us of something that truly happened in history: something that changed the world for good – and that still changes lives today, bringing hope, purpose and a future to us, as we contemplate the love of God shown to us in the child Jesus – who became the man Jesus, the saviour Jesus and the risen Jesus!
There’s Christingle at Redmire on 10th December, at least eight events around our churches and villages from 15th-17th December, and then over the Christmas weekend carols, crib services, late night celebrations (8pm at Redmire and 11.30pm [midnight] at Aysgarth) and of course, the services on Christmas Day!
Further details are elsewhere in this edition. Please make time to come to some of these – and together we will “Join the Song”!
Click here for the December 2023 to January 2024 edition of the Penhill Beacon.
Our church buildings are usually open:
Preston under Scar and Wensley - Daily
Aysgarth - daily
Castle Bolton - daily
Redmire - Daily
West Witton - daily
Middle East Crisis Appeal - Christian Aid
There will be a separate plate in churches for donations to Christian Aid's appeal for aid for the civilian population of Gaza. Christian Aid have partners on the ground in Gaza and are exploring possibilities of supporting Israeli civilians also.
Advent Evenings on Zoom: On Tuesday 28th November and the following three Tuesdays join us online at 7.30pm for an hour, when we'll be looking together at the book 'Stick with Love', written by one of our Leeds bishops, Arun Arora. Extracts will be provided, or you can ask Christine for a copy at £10. Search the title online for more information. This is the Archbishop of York's Advent book for 2023. Please contact Tom or Christine for the Zoom log on details.
Living Advent Calendar
During December residents in Carperby, Thoralby and West Witton are once again turning their village into a ‘Living Advent Calendar’
They will decorate a window and include a number 1-24 which will be illuminated during Advent.
Take a walk around the villages and see the wonderful displays!
During December knitted figures of Joseph and Mary (and the well behaved house trained donkey!) will once again travel around West Witton and Swinithwaite looking for shelter re-enacting Mary and Joseph’s journey.
The Magic of Christmas: 2pm Sat 2nd December at St. Margaret’s, Hawes. Featuring Malcolm Carruthers (Organ) & The Askrigg Handbell Ringers. Free entry (Donations to the Salvation Army Christmas Appeal). The switching on of the Hawes Christmas lights and Hawes Silver Band is at 4pm.
Church Coffee Morning: 10.30am-12noon, Wed 6th December, Redmire Village Hall.
Christmas Coffee Morning: 10.30am, Thursday 7th December at Cote Gill, West Witton. DL8 4LT. Refreshments £5. There will also be a raffle. Everyone is welcome. In aid of The Children’s Society
Wensleydale Filling Station: 7-9pm, Friday 8th December at Thornborough Hall, Leyburn. ‘Seeking the presence of God’ Speaker: Phil Ireson from Sheffield. Philip was Vicar in Sheffield Diocese and a Senior Chaplain at HMP Doncaster. Contact Mike Hirst for info- 07714 204024. Email:
Concert at Wensley church at 6.30pm on 9th December- see Events.
The Prayer Fellowship usually meets on the 4th Tuesday of each month at 7.30 pm to pray together for the Benefice, the wider church, local, national and international issues, and for personal concerns and each other. We begin with a Bible Reflection and short discussion. There isn't a meeting in November but instead we are encouraging people to join the Advent Evenings.
Trees dedicated: Following our ‘Penhill Together’ service with Rev Jeff Payne in September, concerning the environment, a collection was sent to the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust for tree planting. They have thanked us with the following certificate:-
“This is to certify that five native broadleaf trees will be dedicated in James Herriot Wood on behalf of The Parishes of the Penhill Benefice. Your name will also be entered into the Register of Supporters. Thank you for your support”.
FCN sends thanks to the Penhill Benefice: The Farming Community Network
thanked the Church members of Penhill Benefice for the generous donation of £469.45 raised from the raffle of the patchwork quilt. “We are especially grateful for your support during this challenging time in the farming sector. Your generous donation will help us to continue supporting those in need”.
The Penhill Benefice Quilt
In 2019 it was decided to hold a communal activity to raise funds for our Benefice and a charity. The idea of making a patchwork quilt was agreed upon and this would be raffled when finished. Many people took part in the creation of what has been a true labour of love, from donating material and equipment, sewing one or more of the squares making up the quilt, stitching the shapes together, wadding and lining to complete it. Several weekends followed in January and February this year selling raffle tickets with the raffle being drawn on Easter Sunday.
Our endeavours meant we could send £469.45 to the Farming Community Network. We chose this charity because we are a rural Benefice, surrounded by the beautiful countryside of the Yorkshire Dales, with many of our members and their families involved in the farming community. We hope the funds raised will help their good work in the farming environment. Anne Kinsman.
Castle Bolton Print For Sale
If you would like to buy a print of St. Oswald’s Church at Castle Bolton priced at £20 which are mounted and cellophane wrapped please contact the office (01969 663097) for further information.
War Memorial at Aysgarth church: The refurbished War Memorial at Aysgarth church was dedicated on November 11. Click here for an illustrated report.
Supporting biodiversity: St. Mary’s Church, Redmire has recently undertaken the Roche ECO Survey with a view to improving the biodiversity of the Churchyard. As part of the action plan we are seeking sponsorship of bird boxes, wild flower seeds, particularly butterfly habitat plants, and bird feeding stations.
Should anyone be interested in supporting this initiative please contact Denise Houghton, tel. 622625 or 07800658083. Email:
Aysgarth church -
The following are now available online -
War Memorials and Graves at Aysgarth church
The printed illustrated guide to War Memorials and Graves in the churchyard is available in Aysgarth church.
Daily Hope offers music, prayers and reflections as well as full worship services from the Church of England at the end of a telephone line.
The line is available 24 hours a day on 0800 804 8044. Callers will hear a special greeting from the Archbishop before being able to choose from a range of options, including hymns, prayers, reflections and advice on COVID-19. Please let your family and friends, who are not on internet, know about this. More information click here
Hear To Help
Just 'B' is offering emotional wellbeing support to people in the Harrogate District, Hambleton and Richmondshire, with its Hear to Help phoneline, available to anyone who may need help with such issues as grief, low mood, isolation, anxiety or isolation. The line is manned by trained staff and volunteers and is available seven days a week, 8am-8pm. For more information see Hear to Help.