Rural Gathering 2021
Fr Harry Doyle's splendid national rural conference at Garstang in February 2020 was proposed as the final such event for the time being, but a number of people, then and subsequently, expressed the hope that this would not be the last such conference and wondered if another could be held in the South in 2021.
I investigated the possibility of returning to Sarum College in Salisbury. It offered 22-24 February 2021 at no great increase in cost. There is enough material to make attendance worthwhile. A deposit was paid. I estimate the cost per capita to be around £240 single, doubles available; full board. Day visitors welcome.
No sooner had the deposit been placed, than Covid-19 virus intervened. Now Sarum College's accommodation is again open for guests. Here is the dilemma: if the College subsequently has to cancel my booking, the deposit will be returned. If I cancel, it will be lost. Wisdom says, see if enough people still wish to attend such a gathering, Government regulations permitting, to make it viable. Salisbury is readily reached from all parts of the country by train. The college is comfortable, the food good and plentiful, and the cathedral Close in which it is situated, straight out of a Trollope novel; quite magic.
What might it include? Outings: on foot to the Harnham Water Meadows or minibus to the New Forest National Park. In each case, an expert would be on hand to guide us. For topics, I expect an NHS speaker on rural mental health, the latest on rural post offices following this year's big judgment in favour of postmasters/mistresses, the work of the land agent, the Catholic Church and the ecological crisis, the Wiltshire historic churches trust, the Forest Schools programme and more.
Positive responses are coming in BUT it would be most helpful if anyone interested would contact me, ideally before the end of August: email@example.com, 01747870228 or Trellis House, Station Rd, Tisbury, Wilts SP3 6JR.
Fr Robert Miller, CBCEW National Rural Officer