September 2018

It is hoped you all had a very enjoyable but restful Summer recess.  What wonderful weather we had for the best part of it!  The committee have also taken a break but are now busy compiling the new programme for 2019.  

Our opening service will be held on 11th October and Mrs June Butler, M.B.E., newly appointed All Ireland president, has accepted our invitation to give the special address, Canon Ellis officiating.  This will also be our branch’s 30th anniversary so we will celebrate this by inviting our neighbouring Mothers’ Union groups and parishioners to join us in worship. There will be further information in next month’s magazine.  “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”  (Proverbs 19:21)  

Diary Dates: Saturday 1st September (11a.m. - 3p.m.) The 'Big Walk' for Mums in May – walking ‘In Mary Sumner’s Footsteps’.  St. John’s hall is being used as a venue for signing in/signing out.  If any member is free, do pop along to ‘meet and greet’ the walkers.  And if you wish to take part please ask for sponsor forms of Elizabeth, Branch Leader.  

Please do remember in your prayers any of our members who are sick, frail or housebound and especially, our loyal and faithful committee member, June, who is at present in hospital.

Audrey Briggs


March 2018

February, following tradition, was our Overseas/Missions night and guest speaker was Archdeacon John Scott who brought along his wife Laura and grandson Orinn (his technical assistant!).  Archdeacon Scott shared his thoughts and experiences about his pilgrimages to The Holy Land.  He showed many slides which gave us an insight into the major places associated with the life and ministry of Jesus including The Old City of Jerusalem, Masada and The Dead Sea, Bethelem to name a few.  He told the story about the ancient key to The Church of The Holy Sepulchre, believed to be the site of Christ’s burial and resurrection, and this key is held by a Muslim.  Because of the feuding between the different Christian factions the key has been entrusted to the Muslim and he opens up each morning and closes at night.   All in all, it was a most interesting night and there were a few people expressed interest in going on a pilgrimage.  These pilgrimages are run by www.mccabe-travel.co.uk   

Treasurer has requested all Overseas/Missions monies to be returned as soon as possible to be totalled and forwarded on; also membership subscriptions (£22) for 2018 are due. 

Diary Dates:

Friday 2nd March - Women’s World Day of Prayer – St. John’s Church at 11a.m.

Monday 5th March at 7:30pm – Newcastle, Dundrum & Downpatrick Methodist Women visitors night. Speaker: Mr Tom Rice of Mission to the Jews.  

Thursday 8th March – Visitors night.  The Irish Linen Centre, Lisburn.  The guest speaker will give a talk about the industry and do a demonstration.  As it is visitor’s night and we expect to have approx. 15 extra guests, the committee would really appreciate any donations of traybakes or home baking. 

Audrey Briggs


February 2018

It is with great sadness that I must report the passing of one of our dearest and most faithful members, Con Lyle, on 2nd January 2018.  Con was a lovely, warm person that so enjoyed getting to our meetings. We will miss her, and her soft, lilting English accent; we will remember her with great fondness.

December was a busy month indeed for Mothers' Union members as, firstly, we attended the Advent Carol Service in Magheradroll Parish Church on 4th December and what a great turnout from the whole of the diocese. A lovely service was followed by supper and friendship in the nearby hall.  Thursday 14th December 2017 was our annual branch Christmas party and we had The Missing Octave to entertain us. A beautiful supper was enjoyed by members and guests alike.  Santa and his helper were also on hand to give out little Christmas gifts to all. And the evening ended with singing of Christmas carols.  Thank you to all who donated emergency wash bags.  These really are useful to the hospitals especially when someone has been admitted in an emergency and perhaps not had time to collect essentials.  

The first meeting of 2018 was a wonderfully, relaxed social evening with James Herron of The Cookie Jar as our guest speaker.  He delivered his talk with lots of amusing anecdotes into the daily life of the family run bakery.  James told us about how the bakery began (Granny Herron was a great baker and sold fresh bread daily to supplement the family income!) and how it has progressed to the success it is today!  He demonstrated to the ladies how to make a variety of breads including scones, seeded wheaten muffins, date and walnut wheaten and apple crumble desserts, all of course, the ladies had to sample!  He also, very generously, gave each of the ladies a little bag of made up mix to make their own bread at home. 

Diary Dates:   

Tuesday 30th January - MU Annual Dinner, Harbour Inn, Annalong. Meet there at 6.45pm for Dinner at 7.00pm.

Thursday 8th February 2018 – Archdeacon John Scott.  Overseas night.  

Friday 2nd March 2018 - Women’s World Day of Prayer – St. John’s Church at 11a.m.

Monday 5th March 2018 at 7:30pm – Newcastle, Dundrum & Downpatrick Methodist Women visitors night. Speaker: Mr Tom Rice of Mission to the Jews.  Please let either Elizabeth or Audrey know if you intend to be present.

Audrey Briggs


December 2017 / January 2018

On Thursday 9th November we welcomed Debbie Hyland whose great passion is needlework and quilting. She is also the events co-ordinator in Slieve Dhu Nursing home and popular with the staff and residents alike. Debbie firstly gave us a little round up of her life and how she became a Christian and also how she developed her passion for needlework and crafts. She brought some of her beautiful work and explained in detail the meaning behind her works. She also had an envelope for everyone which had felt pieces, buttons and a needle and thread inside to make a Christmas angel. Everyone went home with a new self made Christmas angel for their tree. It was a very enjoyable evening for all and a light supper was served.

We also had the Enterprise stall from MU headquarters and it was quite busy at both the beginning and the end of the evening. This helps raise much needed funds to boost the coffers.

Also available are knitting patterns i.e. for teddies, baby matinee coats, baby hats, and shawls.

Emergency washbags are still requested for hospital admissions. The four necessities are facecloth, soap or shower gel, toothbrush and toothpaste. As an added extra you may add a little notebook, pen/pencil and prayercard. Also washbags for men are urgently needed, to include disposable razors possibly. There will be sack available to collect same in the hallway at the Christmas party. Wendy in conjunction with her workplace and Mothers’ Union is collecting unused soaps and toiletries separately. If anyone has any lying about their house and not needed please bring those as well for Wendy.

Dairy Dates:

Friday 1st December – Diocesan Fundraising Concert in St. Elizabeth’s Parish Church, Dundonald at 7:30pm. The Lindsay Chorale group are entertainers for the evening. £10 per person.

Monday 4th December - Advent Carol Service in Magheradroll Parish Church, Ballynahinch at 8 p.m. This is always a lovely service and the first time in quite a while that it has come nearer to Newcastle! Hope to see as many of our branch members at it. Lifts possibly available! Please ask if interested!

Thursday 14th December – Christmas party begins at 7p.m. Note earlier time. Santa will be in attendance as usual. Entertainment by the Barbershop Quartet. Members £5; two presents for Santa’s sack and guests free. Please, if you can, let us know numbers. It helps to know how many we are catering for.

Thursday 11th January - James Herron of The Cookie Jar

Tuesday 16th January – Post-Christmas dinner in The Harbour Inn, Annalong. Menu available from Elizabeth.

Audrey Briggs


November 2017

The branch opening service on Thursday 12th October was well attended in the, still beautifully, fragranced church from the Harvest flowers. Canon Ellis conducted the service of Evening Prayer with Reverend Gerald Macartney, Mothers’ Union chaplain, as guest preacher. Miss Adeline McBride played the organ for us beautifully. Supper afterwards was in the Millennium Room. 

Subscription fees (£20) must be paid before the beginning of December. There is a great programme lined up for the incoming year. James Herron from the Cookie Jar, Archdeacon John Scott for Overseas night, Irish Linen Centre, Lisburn and Beauty by Natasha Rooney. So please do feel free to join us on any of the nights. You will be made most welcome! 

You don’t have to be a mother to be a member of Mothers’ Union.

Next Meeting: 9th November - Christmas Crafts with Debbie. Craft workshop. £1 per member. Please do try to come to this as it promises to be a fun night. There will be an Enterprise stall at the November meeting made available so that you may purchase stationary, cards and small gifts. 

Dairy Dates:

2nd November at 2p.m. - Killyleagh Mothers’ Union extend an invitation to all to visit them in 2nd Killyleagh Presbyterian Lecture Hall where the M.U. President, Mrs June Butler will visit and talk about the work of the M. U. Sandwiches and traybakes will be served afterwards.

13th November at 8.00pm. - Castlewellan P.W. extend a warm invitation to their visitors’ night in Castlewellan Presbyterian church hall. Guest speaker is Captain Sue Whitla from Portadown and she will talk about the work of the Salvation Army. She is bringing some choristers with her and they are going to sing which is well worth hearing, I believe. Light supper after. 

Audrey Briggs


October 2017

On Saturday 9th September three Mothers' Union members travelled to The National Concert hall in Dublin by coach and what a wonderful day we had!  Jennifer, Elizabeth and I travelled to Banbridge to board the coach coming from Belfast and after a comfort stop at Castlebellingham arrived about 2p.m.  Barbara unfortunately was unable to go due to family commitments and we missed her a lot! The concert commenced at 3 o'clock and oh what a joyous occasion it was!  The afternoon marked the culmination of '13 decades of love and service by Mothers' Union in Ireland'. Last year all members in all dioceses in Ireland were invited to choose their favourite hymns and submit them for counting. The No 1 hymn was 'Praise, my soul, the King of heaven'. The choir was was made up of MU members from all over andthe singing was quite powerful indeed.  Phyllis Grothier, All Ireland President and Lynne Tembey, Worldwide President both gave an address and the concert was over about 5pm.  We boarded the bus again to arrive at the An Grianan, the Irish Countrywoman's Association conference centre where we enjoyed a beautiful evening meal!  All in all it was a fabulous day.

Dairy Dates:

Branch Opening Meeting in St. John's Church on 12th October at 7:30 p.m. and Reverend Gerald McCartney, newly appointed Mothers' Union chaplain, is our guest preacher.  A light supper will follow afterwards.  

An invitation from Newcastle Presbyterian Women's Group for October 17th.  Guest Speaker is Mrs Joanna Tinsley whose husband Colin founded the Hope for Youth Ministries in 2007. This organisation is committed to spreading the gospel and Word of God among children and young people.  Joanna will tell her story 'From Poland to Christ'  and it is her journey about growing up in Poland, her accomplishment as a talented artist and spiritual search for her faith,  Promises to be a good night and a light supper will be served after.  If interested, please do let either Elizabeth or Audrey know as soon as possible.  (07761-204071 or 07713-776287)

Audrey Briggs


September 2017

Welcome back after the Summer break and we hope everyone enjoyed a happy and safe holiday. It is with sadness we report that two of our faithful and generous members passed away in the Summer.  Both Lily Watson and Mary Ross were regular attenders and contributed much to the branch meetings. We will miss them.  

Four members - Elizabeth, Barbara, Jennifer and myself - are excitedly looking forward to The Big Sing in Dublin on 9th September.  It promises to be a wonderful day and hopefully, we will be able to take photos and report back at our branch opening meeting on 12th October.  

Audrey Briggs


July 2017

On Thursday afternoon,15th June, it was a pleasure to welcome residents and companions from Annadale Private Nursing Home, Belfast for lunch and friendship.  The afternoon weatherwise, turned out much better than forecast and they were able to go downtown for ice cream before returning home. 

Saturday 17th June was our annual outing and we were blessed with a glorious, hot summer's day!  Twenty seven members and friends travelled by bus to the Wedding Dress/Marriage Memories festival in St. Mark's church,  Newtownards.  The festival was wonderfully organised with fifty-six wedding dresses on display, some very old, so very recent, some on loan from famous people e.g. Lady Eames and Arlene Foster, and some from far off countries. It was indeed a most interesting and beautifully presented display.  

This was followed by a bit of retail therapy in Ards Shopping Centre before arriving at Rockmount Golf Club for our evening meal. Rockmount Golf Club lived up to its excellent reputation as the meal was superb,  with great service.   

Thanks, especially, must go to our highly organised Branch Leader, Elizabeth McCleery, who did everything possible to ensure we all had a fantastic day.  

The committee would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a safe and happy Summer break and we look forward to seeing you all again in September.

Audrey Briggs, Hon. Sec.


June 2017

The A.G.M. took place on Thursday 11th May with nineteen members in attendance.  The Rector opened the meeting in prayer and full reports were read from both the secretary and treasurer. Treasurer's accounts, as audited by D.R. Browne, were found to be correct and adopted by the members. As this was an election year a new committee was elected.  

The new committee is as follows: Elizabeth McCleery (Chairperson and Treasurer,), Audrey Briggs (Secretary), Mona McCracken, Margaret Neill, Barbara Robb, Jennifer White, June Kendall and we welcomed Wendy Rooney as our newest committee member.  We would like also to thank Isobel Lee for her contribution to the past committtee.  

The meeting was followed by members 'colouring in' postcards and informal chat. A lovely supper was also enjoyed.  

On Saturday May 20th we entertained the Mothers' Union ladies from Moy, Dungannon, to an evening meal and friendship. It was their annual outing but unfortunately the weather was not particularly kind. However, they left in good spirits and hope to return again.

Diary Dates :

17th June – Annual outing to St Mark's Church in Newtownards to view the Marriage Memories/Wedding Dress festival. Meal to follow in Rockmount Golf Club for 5:30p.m. Bus will leave at 1p.m. from church grounds. We are almost at full capacity now but if you are still interested in going please do let either Audrey(07761204071) or (07713776287)  know as soon as possible.

Audrey Briggs, Hon. Sec.


May 2017

The annual Mothers' Union Festival Service was held on Monday 27th March and eight members travelled to The Cathedral Church of Christ the Redeemer, Dromore, to celebrate thirteen decades of love and service of Mothers' Union in Ireland (1887 – 2017).

It truly was an uplifting service during which the commissioning of Revd Gerald McCartney as the new Mothers' Union chaplain took place as well as the commissioning of new trustees to office.  Afterwards there followed a beautiful supper in the nearby Cathedral hall.

The communion service on Maundy Thursday was followed by tea and chat in the hall. It's always lovely just to take time out to reflect and have a friendly chat with good friends.  

Diary Dates:

The A.G.M shall take place on Thursday 11th May at 7:30p.m.and triennial elections to form a new committee shall take place this year.  We would love to see a good turnout for this as it is important that all members have the opportunity to nominate or vote for who they would like to see in office for the next three years.  This will be followed by fun and games and supper. 

Our annual outing will be on Saturday 17th June to St. Mark's Parish Church in Newtownards to view their Marriage Memories/Wedding Dress festival. Meal in Rockmount Golf Club for 5:30p.m. and there will be an opportunity to visit Ards Shopping Centre between the Festival and meal.  If interested in going and your name is not on the list it is vitally important to contact either Audrey (07761-204071) or Elizabeth (07713-776287)  as we are travelling by bus and we need to know exact numbers.

Audrey Briggs, Hon. Sec.


April 2017

Judith Byrne, from N.I Assistance Dogs (N.I.A.D.) was our guest speaker for March and she brought along Rolo, a beautiful chocolate Labrador with her ‘partner’ Wendy.  Wendy has unstable diabetes and has also lost her ‘hypo’ awareness so she benefits greatly from having Rolo who is a highly trained medical alert dog. The organisation sources reliable dogs from a reputable breeder before fostering them out to Puppy Parents for their first eighteen months to learn obedience and socialisation in conjunction with The Kennel Club. The Puppy Parents are their greatest resource.  After this initial training they are paired up to a suitable partner and the true ‘diabetic alert’ training begins.  The dog is trained to recognise the drop or rise in blood sugars of their partner and react accordingly; first pawing at the person, then whining, next jumping on them and finally barking. If all that fails they will seek out another person and return with them to their partner.  The dog will not stand down until he sees his partner being tested for blood sugars and treated.  The dog always wears his medical alert coat so that the general public knows he is a working dog.  A medical alert dog has a working life of about 7 years and costs about £10,000 to train and home.  Fundraising is an important role of N.I.A.D and the Mothers’ Union ladies were able to purchase beautiful homemade chutneys and jams to help with this cause. We all enjoyed having them to visit.

A planned 50k Mothers’ Union emergency relief project to help the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing from the civil war in South Sudan has been publicly backed by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu and anyone wishing to donate towards can do so by going online at www.mothersunion.org/SouthSudan  

Mothers' Union Diary Dates

Monday 27th March – MU Festival Service in Dromore Cathedral at 8p.m. Cars leave at 6:30p.m. from church grounds.

Thursday 13th April – Maundy Communion Service. Tea and chat in hall afterwards.

 Audrey Briggs, Hon. Sec.


March 2017

Valerie Hanna from Mission Aviation Fellowship was the guest speaker for February and very interesting she was too.  She talked us through a slide show on the marvellous work being carried out by M.A.F in some of the most inhospitable and isolated areas of the world. Areas such as Chad, South Sudan, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea.  

M.A.F is a Christian organisation that supplies aviation, communications and learning technology services to over 1,000 different charities and agencies.  Their planes, currently numbering 137, are either taking off or landing on a mission every three minutes somewhere in the world, usually in a remote or dangerous place and often on makeshift runways.  

The pilots are very experienced and it is an occupational requirement they be committed Christians.  Prayers are always the last thing said before take off and the gospel of Jesus is presented whenever possible.  Charities such as Tearfund and Save the Children, to name just two,  charter these planes at a cost and this enables M.A.F to carry out their valuable work.  

Valerie was extremely passionate and informative about M.A.F and told us many stories of the work carried out.  One such story was about a U.S. pilot called Kevin who had been asked by an air traffic controller if he could possibly obtain a Bible for him as the wages he was on were so low he could never afford to buy one.

  Kevin said that of course he would and asked if anyone else would like one.  The response was overwhelming and Kevin had to wire his church back home requesting 70 Bibles altogether, which fortunately they were able to supply.  www.maf.org

Diary Dates: 

3rd March - at 11a.m.  Women's World day of Prayer in Newcastle Presbyterian Church,

9th March  - Next Meeting - Judith Byrne, N.I. Assistance dogs

20th March - 7:30p.m. Invitation to Fun night by St. Donard's Women's Fellowship, Dundrum

27th March -  8p.m. Festival Service in Dromore Cathedral. Names to be given to either Elizabeth or Audrey.  

Preliminary notice of June outing: 17th June – Flower Festival & Marriage Memories in St. Mark's Church, Newtownards.  As well as the Flower Festival there will be wedding dresses on display of well known people, including Lady Eames's. Shopping in Ards Shopping Centre. More details to follow.

Audrey Briggs, Hon. Sec.


February 2017

The Christmas party on 8th December was a great success with 48 guests and members attending. A beautiful supper was followed up with some festive entertainment. Skits acted by some of our own members - definitely some budding actors in our midst - The Barbershop Quartet and a visit from Santa! 

A really enjoyable evening indeed. And a big thank you to all those who brought toiletry bags; it was a great response.  These have been forwarded to the Diocesan office to be distributed to hospitals for emergency admissions.  Very much appreciated.

Guest speaker for January's meeting was Joy Silcock, Social Policy Representative for Down & Dromore Mothers' Union. Joy was Diocesan President for the three years preceding this most recent appointment.  She is a very committed Mothers' Union stalwart, full of enthusiasm and energy for her new new role.  It was a very informative evening as Joy told members about the success of the Bye Bye Childhood campaign in stopping the superstores from selling provocative clothing for children as young as seven.  

Mothers' Union were also highly involved in the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence and led a successful worldwide campaign in November.

On a local level Joy told us how Mothers' Union, Down & Dromore, identify and respond to issues affecting the welfare of our own society, should that be helping families to get a break from problems deeply affecting family life, e.g., divorce, job loss, addiction to name but a few. 

They are also involved with the Newry Womens Aid centre and at Christmas were able to help out with the Santa giving to children.

As Joy said, the badge of the Mothers' Union is an internationl badge and she talked about the many women in South Africa, often leading very difficult lives with HIV/Aids being a huge problem, yet they are very faithful Mothers' Union.  Their social policies are very different to ours and all they ask is that we pray for them.  

Our annual post-Christmas dinner was held in Frenchies on Tuesday night 17th January and it was a lovely, relaxing social evening with good cuisine and friendly chat. Three of our members performed a little sketch that had the rest of us in fits of laughter! Indeed 'Aggie' may still be pondering how long the road called the Seven Mile Straight is!