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