Saturday, December 19, 2015


Padi would have been 18 today so we were delighted that Bluebells had space for us. It seems a fitting place to be. We always looked forward to our stays here. The games room and pool are favourites. There's acres of space. Being in the South East brings us within 40 minutes of Ally's family, so they were able to visit for a turkey dinner on Thursday evening. This was especially opportune because her father's not able to travel as far as Cardiff at the moment, for health reseaons. 
Padi has a page in the Bluebells book of remembrance, amongst the 100's of so-called 'butterfly children'. The photo provides a point of reflection, dating back to our first trip here when the kids were considerably smaller. Life moves on, more or less comfortably. We have mused on the progress and growing-up of his siblings and especially his friends, since meeting the latter is less regular. Ally resumed work at the Velindre cancer centre, which occasionally throws up some predictably difficult moments, no matter how supportive the staff are. We recently moved house too, escaping something of a debt trap. Our new old place, built in the 1890's, is very handy for church and suits us well. Padi did not want to leave Heathwood Road but the time was right; providence expedited our purchase of Donald Street, just a few doors up from the house where Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones was born. Pads would be pleased we made it to Bluebells anyway. Ally was browsing the unique collection of bereavement-related resources yesterday. The charity, , doesn't stand still: they've extended the property and tamed the large garden. They're even in the final stages of approval for another site: Bluebells 2. There is huge demand for these kinds of services
We like short breaks. Yesterday, leaving the kids in the pool, Ally and I took a brisk walk to North Waltham where the idea hatched of visiting a national trust property. Needless to say, the kids were happy to let us go without them. The Vyne is a splendid Tudor mansion, just the other side of Basingstoke from Bluebells. The site began its use as a church and, although quite small, provides a major claim to fame through the stained glass currently being restored. Another notable feature is the 100 guinea oak. You can read how it was named on the Vyne gardens blog:
Various scraps of religious significance were observed, with Christmas just around the corner. The National Trust always likes to tap into festivals and their relevance for the particular site's history: the restoration of Christmas post-puritans was noted with some glee in one Trust historian's blurb. We flinch at the violence dished out upon celebrants back then. Our view holds that the Lord's Day takes precedence over any other 'day', but that there is worth in noting and giving special attention annually to the glorious divine interventions of the incarnation and crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is only ever done in a measured way, for example, the special scripture readings we follow:
Principally, these seasons are useful as opportunities for the gospel: we travel back later to the carol service. Catch it online if you can:
Previous trips to Bluebells in 
February 2013 Was a much shorter, more subdued trip - Pads hardly ventured out of his bed. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Pen-y-Fan: The Good News

We live not far from the Brecon Beacons (30 minutes drive north). They've been in the news lately with the inquest into the deaths of three soldiers. I'm on leave and took a moment to read Ceri Jackson's thoughtful and comprehensive post about it. 
Two years ago, Padi fell asleep in Christ. His own brush with Pen-y-Fan's severe weather has passed into family and church folklore, it was a significant theme of the funeral sermon (View on YouTube: 
I shudder to think of how close to real harm we were. As can be seen from the photo, Padi was warmly wrapped and happy. As the weather came on and the situation became quite scary, I hurried Padi off to the side of the summit to relative shelter in order to change into his wellies (sorry but we were broke) and raincoat. It was as we hurried off the summit that Pads broke down in anguish and pain from the hail in his face and started reciting Psalm 46 (he'd already done that when challenged by the steep climb onto Corn Du). Our route down took us past the Tommy Jones memorial and, with the pelting rain at our backs, we descended to the safety of the Cwm and then on towards Login and somewhere to camp for the night (amongst a large group of curious and sympathetic Guides). The last 10 metres of the mountain retained a foot of snow for days after. Pen-y-Fan is really a tiny hillock in global terms, not even high enough to claim Munro status (as per the 3000 ft Scottish hill classification). But truly the weather varies in these hills and needless tragic loss of life is a regular occurrence. As hazardous as all this may have seemed, little did I know that the far more deadly threat was almost certainly already highly active within his body. This blog has not really charted the onset and diagnosis of Padi's illness, but it still amazes me that it was only a couple of months after the Pen-y-Fan adventure that he began to speak of double-vision and strange neck pains. I am so glad to have chosen him for the first of my 'quality time with dad' trips. I cannot pass the opportunity to point out that an even more deadly potential is virulently at work in each one of us as we skip or trip through the moments of our life, and that is the principle of sin. This curse has only one cure, the Gospel, the good news of God's Son coming to earth in a way that made it possible for him to be the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the World. The World, of which we are all part, despised, rejected and slew him so that our death is swallowed up in the victory of his death and resurrection. This is the mighty foundation that enables us to meet and rebut the sorest grief. 
But the tipping point for this post, apart from the other aspects mentioned already, was possibly the recent message by Jeff Gilbert (listen here: ). He spoke of the importance of knowing the truths we read in the Bible, but the vital importance of experiencing them too. In a familiar analogy, the Bible and its doctrines are like the map. But, according to the text, in Ephesians 3:19-21 we should know the unknowable. We must ascend, using the map, experiencing what the map has only been able to describe in two dimensions. Some religions claim that God is too high and holy for us sinners to really know. But it is one of the glories of Christianity that robustly proclaims that not only is knowing God possible, it is absolutely essential for time and eternity, for life and death. The Lord Jesus Christ died to secure this for us. Anything that stops short of securing intimacy with The Eternal Lord God Almighty Creator, Sustainer and Judge of heaven and earth is vanity, a mere playing at spirituality, however sincere, that is cut off from the Source of life and health and peace. The difference between mere religion and true religion is vibrantly depicted in the book More Than Notion, recently recommended again by Pastor Dewi. In a remarkable effort, Ally has read it into a microphone if you would like to hear it. The chapters can be taken one at a time from this link 
Or you can download the entire thing in a single zip file from this link:

 Other posts about Pen-y-Fan:

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cofio Padi Culminates in £6100

As we approach Padi's birthday, this Friday, the Cofio Padi group today presented a cheque to Kids Cancer Charity - the culmination of their fundraising was £6100. This is all the more impressive because the total was not the result of several chunky donations but years of serious effort on the part of a dedicated troup of Padi's friends. He would have been really delighted and really proud of his mates. Ally went along to represent the family at the presentation. Here's a picture although missing some important contributors to the effort.

I didnt post about the gala evening fundraiser on 22nd Oct. It was a really happy event with excellent contributions from a very varied series of performances by Glantafians, such as Cai Maxwell. He not only performed a thrilling set but hung around to fill in, taking requests, to help create a most relaxing and congenial atmosphere.
Read more to see the kind of thing I'm referring too...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Year book features Padi

Padi's year group have had a year book made, with passport size photos of all the pupils, and it features a two-page spread about him and the guys who are raising money in his memory.

Monday, July 21, 2014

1st Anniversary

We were delighted with the way that the Cofio Padi Fellowship Evening went. Many had given their apologies so we did not know what to expect in terms of turnout but more than 80 gathered in the upper hall to share and enjoy memories. I got everyone's attention by playing the video of 'what Padi did with Appledore crabs', closely followed and sharply contrasted with the interview he gave to promote LATCH just weeks before he passed into glory.
We needed to start the speeches by 6:30pm in order for Jane to get away but we were running late so I did not quite get to record the first contribution by Ally. All the contributions were deeply impressive. You can listen to the recording from
Saturday night actually felt more like the first anniversary, since Pads passed away in the early hours of Sunday. Later on we sung 'Sovereign Ruler of the Skies', one of his chosen funeral hymns. If this was at all upsetting, the pastor's superb sermon on 'There is a river' from Padi's psalm (46) brought to us the pure Source of our blessed assurance.
Today's been calm. Kids are on holidays and I've got leave for the conference. Moli's been feeling dizzy and needs to complete her Welsh Baccalaureate work so a trip to the local Forest tea room suited well. We then popped down to the grave: blistering sun reminiscent of the funeral day's weather.
With apologies to everyone else, it's still got the best stone in the park. That verse proclaims the reality of our conquest over death and the grave through our Saviour, whose rising again points all of us to the skies. "Unto you therefore which believe he is precious" 1 Peter 2:7