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World News

Gloucestershire church raises money to build toilet with 'pandemic moments of joy' book

by Kelly Valencia

Two ladies from a church in Gloucestershire are on a mission to cheer up their community through the pandemic, while also raising money to install a toilet in their grade I listed church building.

Ann O'Hara and Myra Sheppard, from St Mary's Church in Kempsford, have put together a book featuring some of the most uplifting local stories that occurred during the pandemic.

Ms O'Hara, who is a member of the church's council and a governor at the local primary school, told Premier the idea came after she noticed that when people reflect on the little things that have brought them joy during the pandemic it produced a change in their mood, especially during the winter. 

"I put forward the idea that noticing the positivity that came from these conversations, maybe we could just gather moments of joy and inspiration and just put them in a in a book and spread out a bit of joy to others. And so, Myra said she was up to help me and the two of us started on the adventure." 

The book includes contributions from the Bishop of Gloucestershire, Rt Rev Rachel Treweek, British poet Pam Ayres and children's poet Julie Francis Taylor as well as messages or drawings from every member of Kempsford Primary School. 

"[Pam Ayres] is passionate about nature and she talked about tall blossom and fruit-laden hedges. Her poem is Hedge Rose, and Julie Francis Taylor, gave us one of her poems, which was absolutely perfect, because it was called where all the toilet rolls.

"And it's just gone on from there that we've had contributions from people who've been working in difficult circumstances, from our postman to a nurse who's been working with parents who've lost their babies, to another nurse and her team that have been providing palliative care. Everybody has found just something that have made them smile, or inspired them," Ms O'Hara continued. 

Both Ms O'Hara and Ms Sheppard hope they are able to sell as many copies as possible to raise sufficient funds for the church's toilet. 

"We hope to spread the word and the more print runs we can do, the more we can raise the money. We think it's probably going to be 10s of 1000s [of pounds]. So, we'll be guided by our diocese, we know it's got to be internal toilet because we're a grade one listed building. And so we'll follow their guidance throughout," Ms O'Hara concluded. 

The book, 'Collecting Rainbows: moments of joy during the pandemic' will be launched on 9th July. 

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