Children’s Activity Week - 30th July to 3rd August 2018

What a wonderful week we had! Following on from Gerry Purdue and his team was always going to be tough — but I think we pulled it off.

Our theme was “Woodland” and across the 5 days, we engaged around 50 children from families across the Benefice. We had lots of fun...

  • A trip to Monkey World
  • Creating stick gnomes at Forest School with Richard & Karen Ecclestone
  • African drumming, dancing and adinkra printing on to T-Shirts
  • Creating a woodland montage with Lynda Appleby (which is on display in Semley Church)
  • Singing with Jill Caudle who leads our Benefice Church Choir
  • Baking with Ellen
  • Creative activities with Nick Crump
  • Planting seeds at Fay Duthie's home
  • BBQ
  • Camping overnight in The Rectory garden... including a late-night ramble with the older children who were brave enough!!

Thank you to the team of helpers; running it over 5 days with the breakfast club was a huge success and something we'll replicate next year — but we could do with more help - even if it‘s just making refreshments for a couple of hours. Please do consider whether you can!

*** 2019 - save the date - week commencing 29th July ***

Here is a selection of photos from the 2018 Children's Activity Week. Click on each picture to see a larger version....

Children's Activity Week - 31st July to 3rd August 2017 - ‘Our 20th Year’

caw logo

‘To a Farming Theme’

We chose a farming theme for this our twentieth year, a topic we felt highly appropriate given that our villages contain many farms. The only activity not to our theme but a perennial favourite, was learning a variety of circus skills with Geoff Gardner, who brought along lots of equipment such as uni-cycles, stilts and a tight-rope. The weather forecast proved accurate — it rained a fair bit; but it didn't dampen the spirits of thirty five local children who took part. They had a whale of a time, as confirmed by many parents who also expressed amazement at the amount the children packed into the four days.

We were privileged to be invited to visit two farms during the week: on Monday we walked to the Bowermans’ Farm in Semley and on Thursday we climbed aboard Tisbuses which took us to the Greens’ farm at East Knoyle. The children saw an enormous amount during these visits, when they learned about various farming activities and the need for a constant, safety-conscious approach when moving around the farms; handling equipment; or approaching livestock. They saw cows being milked in a fully-automated parlour - even milked a strange-looking one — and had a close look at other animals including calves, sheep, a pony, and some horses.

The Bowermans also showed us their new fresh-milk vending machine which will be ready soon for customers; they have a second machine that dispenses one-litre, re-useable glass bottles to take the machine-vended milk. The ‘icing on the cake’ - at least so far as this writer is concerned - is that the pasteurised, dispensed milk will not be homogenised, so each bottle will have a layer of cream at the top; just like the old days!

in keeping with our farming theme: the children produced a large-scale collage, covering four seasons, that is now displayed proudly in Semley Church - do drop in to take a look.

Other activities included:

  • Using a variety of vegetables to make coloured prints, examples being the lovely ‘flowers’ obtained with a dissected sweet pepper or a whole stick of celery trimmed at its base.
  • Making pizzas for parents to cook for tea - taken home in boxes that the children had decorated.
  • Making willow and rush fish and heart dollies — when the children learned new skills such as weaving and plaiting.
  • Cooking, where children baked a variety of cakes and biscuits, and a huge quantity of scones which we all enjoyed - together with parents - with jam and clotted cream to close our week.
  • Tasting a variety of milks and cheeses which included samples from cows, goats and sheep.
  • Meeting two alpacas and learning about their origins and uses for their wool.
  • Making scarecrows from broom handles, old clothes, and hay.

After our visit to the Greens’ on Thursday, the Tisbuses took us to Oyster’s Coppice (in Semley) where we all enjoyed our lunches - picnic style - followed by a scavenger hunt for a variety of flora and fauna, and a hike across fields back to Semley School where we scoffed our cream tea.

The organisers - Martha Allfrey, Becky Murphy, Ellen Robb, Karen Willetts, Richard Warhurst, and Gerry Purdue - wish to thank all the children for being so well behaved and those who led activities or helped generally during the week, in particular: Carole Holden who has masterminded the communal painting for many years; Shirley and Stuart Asbury who have helped with craft-work for many years; and our regular professionals Nick Crump, who led the craft workshops and Geoff Gardner, as mentioned above. We also thank, especially, Mrs Stokes, Semley School Head, for letting us use the school premises; Sam and Mike Green, and Serena, Graham, Alan and Jacob Bowerman for hosting our farm visits and making them so interesting; and Bob Thackray for bringing along his alpacas.

Finally, a personal note: this has been my last year as leader of our organising team, although you may find me helping a bit next year. Also retiring are Karen and Martha who have contributed greatly to the success of our weeks; without them they would not have run so smoothly. Becky, Ellen and Rev’d Richard are continuing with the team, for which Richard's wife Anna is lining up new members.

I thank all who have contributed in so many ways to activity weeks over the years; I feel sure they will be in safe hands for years to come.

Gerry Purdue

Children's Activity Week 2016

The Children's Activity Week has been running for the last 19 years for children (5-11 yrs) attending Semley and Ludwell schools or who live in the Benefice of St Bartholomew (Semley/Sedgehill/East Knoyle/The Donheads/Ludwell/Charlton). It is run by volunteers.


Here is a selection of photos from the 2016 Children's Activity Week. Click on each picture to see a larger version....



Children's Activity Week - 1st to 4th August 2016 - Our 19th Year

To a Brazilian Theme

rio2016 logoSummer activities for local children have been organised each year since 1998, initially at the request of Semley PCC but now on behalf of the Benefice of St. Bartholomew. They are held mainly in Semley School, on the school field, at the Village Hall, or in St. Leonard’s Church. The main aims are to educate children in a fun way, in a Christian, caring environment, with much emphasis on team work. The programme for 2016, much of which will be to a Brazilian theme (it's an Olympic year!), will run from Monday 1st August to Thursday 4th August inclusive.

There will be places for fifty-five children who, to be eligible, must live in the Benefice of St. Bartholomew or attend either Semley or Ludwell schools; children will be able to enrol if they are 5 or over and no older than 11 on 31st August, 2016. The children will enjoy a variety of supervised activities as usual, which are likely to include cooking, modelling, painting, pottery, yoga, aerobics, and parachute games. Several activities will be in keeping with our Brazilian theme, and Origens do Brasil will be running their music, movement and dance workshop. Three of our regular, professional leaders will be back with us: Geoff Gardner will teach us circus skills; and Nick Crump and Lizzie Bryant will help the children make Brazil-related items to take home. Lizzie usually has an interesting story to tell as well. Nick and Lizzie will also lead the children in a carnival parade at 2.45 pm on the Wednesday, which all parents or guardians are invited to. We will have a ‘day out’ on the Thursday, visiting The Royal Signals Museum at Blandford, which traces the history of the British Army’s battlefield communications experts – The Royal Corps of Signals.

Please look out for further information on this website; booking forms will be available from 26th May 2016. Children wishing to apply who are not pupils at either Semley or Ludwell schools may obtain forms from me.

Gerry Purdue
Click here for Gerry's contact detais

Children's Activity Week 2015

Snow in Semley During August!

No – worry not – we actually enjoyed good weather for this year’s Children’s Activity Week, based at Semley School. Each day started with prayers led by Reverend Richard Warhurst, our new Rector; and Anna, his wife, helped the children learn a new song – adding a verse each day. caw 2105But we did have snow – glitter really – that Nick Crump, our long-time model-maker friend incorporated into each of the winter-scene globes he - with other kind volunteers - helped all the children make (see photo below). It was quite a sight seeing nearly fifty lined up once completed, and they all went home with the children. caw 2105There was much, as usual, for the children to do: they prepared and baked a variety of savoury and sweet treats; enjoyed learning ‘circus skills’ with Geoff Gardner - another of our regular professional helpers; made models from junk, and a ‘mobile’ to take home; produced a lovely painting – true to this year’s water theme – which now hangs proudly in Semley Church (do visit and see); made clay items and threw pots on a wheel; took part in a variety of physical exercises, which included the ever-popular parachute games; and conducted several scientific experiments courtesy of the design team at Dyson.

Also in keeping with our water theme: the team from Tisbury Fire Station came along to demonstrate the various capabilities of their modern fire engine (I suspect local residents wondered that day why the sirens went off so much!); Duncan Forbes from Wessex Water talked about water treatment – both before and after it goes through us!; Trevor Sapey, from the Mary Rose Trust, told us all about the ship’s history and how she ended up being sunk; and Janet Fitzjohn gave an interesting talk on the work of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, otherwise known as the RNLI. caw 2105 1Last, but not least, Lizzie Bryant – another of our regular, professional helpers – helped each child make a powered boat, mainly out of polystyrene, lolly sticks and elastic bands (see photograph on the left) !

As well as all these activities, we still found time for a ‘day out’ to visit Langford Lakes (near Steeple Langford), a reserve of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, where the children found and identified a variety of air-, land- and water-based wildlife. The week ended with our customary barbecue, expertly cooked by John Passmore and Fifi, his wife. This was supplemented by food donated by parents and a selection of items baked by the children earlier in the week.

The Organising Team thank all the children for being so well behaved; Mrs. Stokes for enabling us to use the school facilities; Semley Village Hall Committee for letting us take over the hall; and all who so kindly helped before, during, and after the week.

Gerry Purdue

Younger Children’s Activity Week - 2014

A Flight Theme

This year's Children's Activity week was the seventeenth organised at Semley for local children since the first one in 1998. Fifty-eight took part this year; all had a great time, learnt a lot and were well behaved; and the weather was kind to us. The children enjoyed a wide range of activities which were, where possible, in keeping with our flight theme; they included cooking, modelling, art, pottery, yoga, aerobics, 'out & about', parachute and other games, and circus skills. We were also pleased to welcome back professional leaders Lizzie Bryant and Nick Crump, who helped each child make a wind-sock and kite.

bird of prey sWe had a special treat on the Thursday: we visited Mere Down Falconry ( for birds-of-prey demonstrations. Each child experienced close contact with a variety of owls and hawks, and learnt much about them from Allan Gates and his team. On our way back to base, we called in to Chaldicott Barns (Semley) where we were shown around the para-glider factory. The children were most interested in this impressive facility; we thank Gilo Cardozo for making us so welcome.

The week ended with a superb barbecue, expertly cooked by Rev'ds. Steve and John, and supplemented by food donated by parents. There were also lots of sweet and savoury items, all baked by the children under guidance from Rev'd Alice and her body of helpers. Before Rev'd Steve closed the week, we were also delighted to present tokens of our appreciation to Queenie Fletcher who has stepped down from leading our cookery sessions after sixteen years in that role.

The Organising Team - Martha Allfrey, Serena Bowerman, Queenie Fletcher, Alice Goodall, Pat Whitting, Steve Morgan, Gerry Purdue - thank all the children for being so well behaved. We thank, especially, Mrs. Stokes for enabling us to use the school facilities; Semley Village Hall Committee for letting us take over the hall; and all those who so kindly helped before, during, and after the week.

Martha Allfrey has produced a picture CD of this year's activities; please let me know if you'd like one. We are always happy to receive suggestions for future activities; please let me, or any Organising-Team member, know your thoughts. Finally, do take a look in St. Leonard's at this year's artwork 'The Semley Eagle' - the brainchild of Carole Holden, one of our long-time activity leaders.

Gerry Purdue

Children’s Activity Week 2013

MusicA Musical Theme

This was my first Children's Activity Week, and at the start of the week I was wondering what I had signed up to! More than 50 children from the local area had signed up to do a whole host of activities – clay and junk modelling, singing, art, cooking, aerobics and parachute games to mention a few. As if that weren't enough, we had visits from circus skills teacher Geoff with his stilts, unicycles and spinning plates, musician Nick Crump, who taught us to make swanee whistles, and storyteller Lizzie, who shared some native American stories and helped us make gourds and rain sticks. On Thursday we had Grafted Outdoor Play from Bath, who brought down some giant inflatables, including an assault course, water tag and table football!

Our theme for the week was "music", and over the week we learnt the song 'This little light of mine', which we performed at the end to all the parents – right before we had a BBQ and got to eat the food we'd made during the week! We also made a music themed art piece, which is on display in St Leonard's Church at Semley. The week was staffed by an army of parents and volunteers, led by the Children's Activity Week committee and held across Semley School, church and village hall.

For those who volunteered, it was obvious that the children were having a great time – the laughter and the excitement were loud and clear! Some of the children who attended were kind enough to let us know that they had a great time – one girl said it was 'awesome', others said that they'd learnt a lot and that, even though they didn't know anyone at the start of the week, everyone had been friendly and they'd felt very welcome.

Thanks to the organising committee, the faithful parents and volunteers and the very well-behaved children for such a great week!

Hannah James

Younger Children’s Activity Week 2012

An Olympic Theme

caw 12 692 sOver fifty children, aged between 5 and 11, from across the Benefice took part in this year's week, based at Semley School.

The children enjoyed our ever popular cookery, modelling, painting, and pottery; they always get to eat most of the cookery-sessions' output at our end-of-week barbecue but take home most of the other items made during the week. The exception is always the communal painting – each child having contributed to it – which now has pride of place hanging in St. Leonard's Church, Semley. This masterpiece, which was devised by Carole Holden, depicts nicely our Olympic theme; do please drop in to the church sometime to see the fruits of their labours.

Marc Gundry (one of our parent helpers) led music sessions in the church, during which – and very impressively – he taught each child how to play several chords on the ukelele! Three of our favourite professionals were with us again. Nick Crump and Lizzie Bryant helped us make things appropriate to our theme; these included patriotic rings (with red, white and blue ribbons), laurel wreathes and – of course – gold medals. Geoff Gardner came for the sixth year running with his wide range of equipment to help teach us circus skills. We also held a games afternoon, led by Steve Morgan and Chris Lawton – again in keeping with our theme. And what fun we had - despite it being very overcast – taking part in a variety of events which included ever-popular sack and egg-and-spoon races.

caw 12 755 sBut perhaps the highlight of the week came at our visit to the Bison Farm at West Knoyle when, during a tractor/trailer ride around the farm, the children were able to get very close to the bison and deer herds, the latter including, in particular, a very handsome stag!

The week ended with an excellent barbecue cooked by Rev. Steve and Marc Gundry. Assorted goodies were provided by mums and dads, and the children produced tasty savouries and cakes – courtesy of Queenie Fletcher and Sarah Eddowes in their cookery sessions. We also enjoyed some very nice 'Buttercup & Daisy' ice cream made, provided and served by Rosemary Sidford. Towards the end of the barbecue it was our pleasure to present to each participant a medal depicting our theme, and that 2012 is the fifteenth year we have held activity weeks in Semley. It was also particularly pleasing that there was enough room in the medal centres to enable us to recognise that 2012 is also our Queen's Diamond Jubilee year.Young Person

The photo shows one of the older boys proudly wearing his medal and holding the edible prize presented to him by Steve Morgan in recognition of his considerate support to some of the youngest children.

The Organising Team - Martha Allfrey, Serena Bowerman, Pene Cairns, Queenie Fletcher, Steve Morgan, Gerry Purdue and Pat Whitting - thank all the children for being so well behaved during the week. We thank also Sedgehill and Semley Parish Council for funding the medals; Mrs. Moorsom (Semley School Head) for enabling us to use the school facilities and Semley Village Hall Committee for letting us take over the hall for the week. We thank especially all who so kindly helped before, during, and after the week - we could not manage without you!

Martha Allfrey has prepared a picture CD of activities; please let me know if you'd like one. We are always happy to receive suggestions as to what we could do better or differently next time.

Keep your eye on future issues of the Parish Magazine and Donhead Digest and on this web site to see what we have in store for next year!

Gerry Purdue

Tudors in 2011!

Over fifty children, aged between 5 and 11 from across the Benefice, took part in this year's 'Younger Children's Activity Week' based at Semley School.

We choose a theme each year and aim to have a few of our activities true to the theme.  This year, for example, we were delighted to have Nick Crump with us again who helped each child make a 'Nine-Men's Morris' set to take home;  this board game, although traceable back to Roman origins, was particularly popular in Tudor times. Each child also made a bag during the week to hold the Nine-Men's Morris pieces.

Trevor Sapey from the Mary Rose Trust and Lizzie Bryant from Salisbury Museum brought along Tudor clothes for the children to dress up. Trevor explained that the Mary Rose, built between 1509 and 1511 and a particular favourite of Henry VIII, was sunk accidentally in 1545 during an engagement with the French fleet.  Her remains have been recovered and are undergoing restoration in Portsmouth.  They should be available for all to see from 2012 in a new museum there, together with many of the artifacts discovered with her.  Trevor also talked about various jobs that the crew needed to be capable of and brought along authentic copies of some of the salvaged artifacts.  Lizzie talked about Henry VIII and helped the children prepare potions - containing all sorts of horrible things - that the Tudors made to capture and get rid of bad omens.  Lizzie also brought along a variety of items to help each child make and decorate their own Tudor hobby horse.

Other Tudor-themed activities included game playing and painting.  Martha Allfrey and Chris Lawton, ably assisted by several of our helpers, led the children in playing various Tudor games such as quoits.  Carole Holden masterminded our painting this year which, of course, was of the Mary Rose.  The finished masterpiece, which is three-dimensional and a credit to Carole's imagination and leadership, is on display in Semley Church.  (Let me know if you can guess what items the children used to create the 3-d effect. I will provide a decent bottle of wine to the first person who gets them all - the week's participants and organizing-team members excluded!). 

The children had lots of other activities to keep them active.  These included:  cookery;  modeling with junk, various other items, and construction sets;  pottery;  blowing giant bubbles;  parachute games;  circus skills - led by Geoff Gardner, who was with us for the fifth-year running;  singing - led by local musician David Grierson;  and an introduction to the charity 'Dogs for the Disabled' by Jill Brown, who was brought along by her dog 'Yates'.  Yates, who helps Jill with all sorts of tasks that she would otherwise be unable to do, proved a great favourite with the children.

In a TreePerhaps the highlight of the week was the tree-climbing experience provided by 'The Great Big Tree Climbing Company', a local firm led by Semley arborist Mark Hawes.  Mark and his team set up their climbing gear in Semley School's large oak tree, situated in the front playground.  Each child - and I believe there were no dissenters - was suitably kitted out in a harness and hard hat, then rope-climbed the tree to be met near the top by a member of Mark's team.  They then took an easier way down via a Zip wire, with Mark's colleague acting as brakeman.

The week ended with an excellent barbecue cooked by Rev. Steve and helpers.   Assorted goodies were provided by mums and dads, and the children produced  tasty savouries and cakes - courtesy of Queenie Fletcher and Sarah Eddowes and their cookery sessions.

Martha Allfrey has produced a picture CD of the activities; please let me know if you'd like one.  We are always happy to receive suggestions as to what we could do better or differently next time;  please let me, or any Organising-Team member, know your thoughts.

The Organising Team - Martha Allfrey, Serena Bowerman, Queenie Fletcher, Steve Morgan, Gerry Purdue and Pat Whitting - thank all the children for being so well behaved during the week.  We thank also Mrs. Moorsom for enabling us to use the school facilities and Semley Village Hall Committee for letting us take over the hall for the week.  We especially thank all who so kindly helped before, during, and after the week, without whose help we could not manage.

We'll be back again next year - this time to 'an Olympic Theme'!

Gerry Purdue

Younger Children’s Activity Week 2010

An Aboriginal theme!

OwlSixty-three children, from across the Benefice and beyond, took part in this year’s ‘Younger Children’s Activity Week’ based at Semley School. A good time was had by all. We were delighted that Adrian Beckingham, an acknowledged expert on Aboriginal affairs (www.themanfromstory, was able to spend two days with us. Adrian spent the first day enthralling the children with Aboriginal stories and the second helping them with a group painting, which itself tells Aboriginal stories. This impressive painting is now proudly displayed in Semley Church. Nick Crump, that well-known local musician, joined us again this year and helped the children make ‘clapsticks’ which he encouraged them to decorate in keeping with our theme and which each child then took home.
Geoff Gardner, invited back for the fourth time, brought various items to teach the children ‘circus skills’ (and balance) including a not-so-high wire, unicycles and stilts. Laura Bullivant from Salisbury Museum, came along for the second year running, and helped the children make pretend, stained-glass windows. Other activities included cookery, singing, playing musical instruments, more art, pottery, junk and other modelling, playing various games,making clothes from old newspapers, yoga; and a number of team-building exercises and ‘challenges’, which included using a compass.
On the last day we took the children to Mere Down Falconry (www.meredown, where they met Allan Gates’ wonderful birds of prey, including: Harris hawks; a kestrel; falcons; an eagle; and owls. Benji (in the photo) followed Allan round in much the same way that a dog follows a mistress or master! Allan is a great believer in ‘hands-on experience’ and actively encouraged each child to enjoy the thrill of a hawk landing on their (gloved) hand. The children thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The week ended with an excellent barbecue cooked by Steve and helpers with assorted goodies provided by mums and dads, and from earlier cookery activities.
The Organising Team – Martha Allfrey, Serena Bowerman, Queenie Fletcher, Steve Morgan, Gerry Purdue, Elizabeth Tough and Pat Whitting – thank all the children for being so well behaved during the week. It was a real joy to see them enjoying the wide variety of activities on offer. We thank, especially, Mrs Moorsom for arranging use of the school facilities; Semley Village Hall Committee for letting us take over the hall; Eloise Hawes for stepping in at the last minute and leading Yoga sessions for a whole day; and all those who so kindly helped before, during and after the week.
Any suggestions as to what we could do better, or differently, next time are welcome. Please let me, or any of the Team, know your thoughts. Martha Allfrey has produced a picture CD of the activities; please contact me if you would like one.
Gerry Purdue