Happy New Year from everyone here at Westwood! We hope your Christmas was a time of peace and joy and good things.
2016 was obviously a time of massive transition here, with a total overhaul of the on-site team. Colin and Carole Pattenden left as wardens in March, to be replaced by Andy and Becca Kind. Then in November, Jake and Ellie Westmoreland replaced the founders, David and Glenys Greenwood. Our team now has an average age of 29 – which we think is a record for retreat centres in the UK. Hopefully it means that we can move Westwood forward with energy and verve, picking up the much-needed wisdom as we go.
It wasn’t just the team that saw major changes in 2016. Over the summer we had a new drive put in, which makes parking in the Winter a lot less muddy and treacherous than before. Then in December, just before our inaugural ‘Comedy and Carols’ event (which was a complete sell-out!) we decorated and carpeted the Main Hall. It looks great, and is certainly warmer! A quarterly comedy night is on the cards for the New Year, having had many encouraging rumblings from the local community about the quality of the Christmas gig.
The Sanctuary Meeting Place now has an added use: following the lead of retreat centres like Ffald-y-Brenin in South Wales, we have set up a weekly House of Prayer there – a chance for local Christians to gather and pray blessing over the land and its inhabitants. It’s been exciting so far, and we hope to see God move in amazing ways over the coming months.
Plans are afoot for 2017. We are hoping to modernise a couple of the flats, while still maintaining the sense of peace and simplicity, and Jake is working on redesigning the website and logo – to keep things fresh and up-to-date.
Andy is planning to run a number of creative workshops this year, to help people engage with their Creator through Creativity; while Becca and Ellie are looking into setting up a lunchtime holiday club for children on free school dinners. It’s all very exhilarating, and we’re not afraid to make a few mistakes along the way. The aim is to turn Westwood, not so much upside down, but inside out; to engage much more with the people and needs of the surrounding area.
Something that the team is very keen on providing is short breaks for people who wouldn’t normally be able to afford them – single Mums, destitute individuals, actors (one of those is a joke). With this in mind we are setting up Project Treasure. The idea is that generous benefactors donate an amount to Westwood, which would then be ringfenced and used specifically for offering short stays to people within our network of contacts. If you’d like to hear more – or to donate to Project Treasure – we’d love to hear from you.
Some dates for your diary, then:
Saturday February 18th: Holy Spirit day – a daytime event where guest leaders Luke and Rebekah Cannon will help us engage with the Holy Spirit in various ways.
Friday 18th March: Comedy Night – a great night of clean comedy from some of the country’s top acts.
Wednesday 19th April: Westwood Creative Day – It’s the Easter holidays, and we’re turning the entire centre into a creative hub. There’ll be stuff for both kids and grown-ups – song-writing, story-telling, bread-making, painting, and plenty more.
To book on to any of the above, contact the office.
That’s all for now. You can look forward to another Newsletter in the Springtime.
Blessings for now,
Becca, Andy, Ellie and Jake