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St Mary's Church in Tadley to star in BBC's Songs of Praise today




WHEN St. Mary’s Church in Tadley began working on a community garden during lockdown, little did they know it would feature nationally on three different BBC programmes.

The church partnered with the Bible Society to create a wildflower labyrinth based on Psalm 23 The Lord is my Shepherd and the garden is based on the Psalm 23 garden which features at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.

The garden, at the centre of the parish, is now a place that is used by the community, many stopping off as they walk to school, travel to work or take a well-earned break during the day.

(L-R) The Rev Richard Harlow, rector of Tadley with Pamber Heath and Silchester, BBC presenter Radzi Chinyanganya, and Minister Reverend Steve McKay of St Mary’s Church (51346255)
(L-R) The Rev Richard Harlow, rector of Tadley with Pamber Heath and Silchester, BBC presenter Radzi Chinyanganya, and Minister Reverend Steve McKay of St Mary’s Church (51346255)

Whilst the project has been a success story for the community, St. Mary’s had no idea just how much attention the garden would generate.

On September 1, the church was joined by BBC presenter Adam Frost and the Gardeners World team who filmed a feature as part of BBC’s Chelsea Flower show footage – shown on BBC1 last Sunday.

A week later, the church was paid a visit by ex-Blue Peter presenter Radzi Chinyanganya and the Songs of Praise film crew.

BBC presenter Radzi Chinyanganya in front of the garden (51346257)
BBC presenter Radzi Chinyanganya in front of the garden (51346257)

The show will be broadcast today (Sunday) at 1.15pm on BBC1, when church warden Chris Gillings explains the impact the garden is having on the wellbeing of the community.

As a prelude to this, the Rev Steve McKay was interviewed for BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme, which aired this morning at 7.15am.

On the reasoning behind the garden, Mr McKay said: “The pandemic has been tough for all of us and we wanted to create space that would be a symbol of hope and a focal point for our community as we emerged from lockdown.

“As Christians, we are called to witness to hope and, in this space, bursting with creation God’s consistent love is present in an uncertain world.

“I’ve had some wonderful and honest conversations here, among the wildflowers with people about their lives, their hopes, their dreams and their fears.”

Mr McKay said the garden had become a place where the church could engage in a mission, a place to meet people, talk to them and help them on their journey.

He continued: “The labyrinth represents our journey through life, but unlike a maze, a labyrinth has no unexpected ends.

“It’s a place of consistency and safety, much like the love of God.

“It begins on the outside but takes us on a journey drawing us ever inwards to towards that love.”

The Psalm 23 Wild Flower Labyrinth can be visited any time outside St Mary’s Church in Bishopswood Road, Tadley.

The Chelsea Flower Show can still be watched on BBC iPlayer at https://bbc.in/3nJ0bT0.



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