By MP John Hayes
Amongst the greatest joys of the place in which we live are the annual church flower festivals.
I visit each of them every year throughout our local towns and villages and never fail to be enthralled by the beauty of imaginative arrangements created through the dedication of countless volunteers.
It is a delight to see so many visitors and to witness the looks of wonder on the faces of those enjoying these spectacles for the first time.
The innocent awe of children, who visit the churches with their parents, reminds me of the words of the poet John Betjeman who wrote that ‘childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows.’
The sight and scent of our decorated churches certainly makes a lasting impression. In an age too preoccupied by data and reason, the feelings evoked by the glorious aesthetic of the flowers God created combined with churches built to worship him make our spirits soar.
We are rightly proud of our local flower festivals. Special events; they are a unique characteristic of the villages of the south Lincolnshire Fens, valuably bringing communities together by creating a sense of proud, shared belonging. The flower displays themselves are a testament to the skill and creativity of the people of South Holland; they inspire, enthral and enchant.
Above all, these festivals confirm the central role of churches in our community.
As I travel across my constituency, in the flatness of the Fens, church spires stand proud against the big skies, each marking a community with its own distinct character and heritage.
These annual festivals are also an important occasion for churches to raise funds as they open their doors to everyone, so providing a wonderful opportunity for those not there regularly to attend and enjoy church and community life.
As we work to recreate a Spalding flower parade (perhaps inspired by the delightful Moulton Chapel parade) the church festivals must continue to enjoy our support too – they will certainly always have mine. As William Wordsworth wrote, ‘glory in the flower’, may its splendour never fade.