What does the word ‘rose’ mean to you?
Does it conjure up childhood memories of burying your face in a large bloom to breathe in its sweet fragrance? Does your mind wander to a mass of buds tumbling over an old wall? Or a gorgeous wedding bouquet celebrating true love? Does the thought of the perfect summer flower take you back to lazy days in the garden, interrupted only by the buzzing of insects? Or balmy strolls in your favourite park? Does the scent remind you of a much-loved place or person? Or is your ‘Rose’ someone very special in your life?
Say it with flowers
There’s undoubtedly something very special about the rose. Popular with horticulturists, perfumiers and artists alike, its graceful petals, delicate hues and heady aroma lend it a uniqueness that conveys the language of love, gratitude and celebration. It’s the perfect gift to commemorate a special occasion, and to say ‘thank you’.
That’s why this year we’ve been inviting the BRF community to give or plant a BRF centenary rose – the beautiful floribunda ‘Cream Abundance’. It’s our way of saying ‘thank you’ as we celebrate 100 years of ministry – and your way of helping secure our ministries for future generations, as the proceeds help fund our work.
Hundreds of you have been buying our special centenary rose for your own gardens and as gifts. We were especially touched when one kind supporter called us offering to buy two roses to express his gratitude for the work of Anna Chaplaincy for Older People.
So earlier this year, as the daffodils were still nodding, we asked our longstanding trustee (and now vice-president) Ann Persson to help us draw at random the names of two Anna Chaplains to receive these beautiful ‘thank yous’.
The rose that keeps on giving
Trina Lodge lives in an old farmhouse on a working farm, not far from her family’s farm in rural south Wales.
As well as being an Anna Chaplain, Trina is a priest in a small clergy team serving eleven churches and two care homes. ‘I’ve always had passion to help older people,’ says Trina, explaining that she had previously worked in a care home in between jobs. ‘It made me realise how desperately some people needed visitors,’ she recalls. ‘For some people, it was incredibly lonely – but working there, I didn’t have time to sit and chat.’
‘There’s such a desperate need for company,’ Trina continues. ‘That led me into Anna Chaplaincy, because I wanted to raise the profile of what we could do to help older people. I think there’s an awful lot more we should be doing as churches, too: our lovely rural churches are not very accessible.’
Trina explained how she was able to pick up a wheelchair through Facebook that enabled an older lady with mobility problems to get into the church, and now it’s available for anyone to use.
‘I had no thoughts that I would receive a rose,’ says Trina. ‘I got the call – which was wonderful! – telling me to look out for a rose, and this amazing box arrived! It was beautifully packaged and I was excited to open it and see this very healthy looking and good-sized plant.’
‘We are having an open garden next month to raise funds for our churches, and I was needing another rose for a little rose bed. It couldn’t be more perfect!’
How wonderful that through this kind gift, our sponsor is helping raise money for another great cause!
Potted and portable
By coincidence, Steph Mawhinney is also an ordained priest, and currently a curate in Whitefield and Unsworth in Greater Manchester. A key part of Steph’s brief has been to focus on older people’s ministry through Anna Chaplaincy, as a couple of people in the parish were keen to get involved.
‘I’ve always enjoyed getting to know older people, but being invited to get involved in setting up Anna Chaplaincy in the parish felt like the perfect opportunity to develop this ministry more, especially after losing my mum last year,’ Steph recalls. ‘She suffered with dementia and I felt I had learned a lot during her illness that I could apply in ministry.’
Licensed in January 2022, Steph and her fellow Anna Chaplains now lead a growing team of volunteer Anna Friends. Both of the churches are trying to be more intentional about supporting older people,’ says Steph, ‘especially those not able to join in with services.’ She describes her main focus as to reaching out to older people in the community who may have spiritual needs, but not necessarily think of themselves as religious.
When she heard about the draw, Steph thought, ‘That’s okay… I won’t win.’ So she was delighted when Julie MacNaughton, our head of fundraising, called to say her name had in fact been drawn!
‘I am a gardener, though not a good one!’ admits Steph. ‘I love noticing what’s coming and going in the garden… I’m just not very skilled at controlling how that happens!’
Steph is keeping her BRF centenary rose in a pot, ready to move with her shortly into her new home in the parish.
Celebrate 100 years of BRF
BRF trustee Mike Wilkinson did just that when he bought a rose for his own garden in south-west London – and gifted one each to his parents and his sons. ‘I’m not a gardener,’ he confesses, ‘but I was excited about BRF’s centenary this year, and when I heard about the centenary rose, it caught my imagination… It’s exciting to have something tangible and beautiful with which to commemorate it.’
Join the (gardening) club!
Beautifully packaged and carefully dispatched from a reputable UK grower, nearly 400 BRF centenary roses have found their way into gardens and balconies around the country. Perhaps you’d like to order one too?
Perhaps you’d like to say ‘thank you’ by gifting a rose to a friend, your church – or maybe a volunteer, such as a Messy Church leader? Maybe you’d like to donate one to a community garden or plant it in memory of someone special? Or perhaps there’s a space in your own garden, balcony or by your front door, that’s just waiting for some gorgeous creamy blooms to cheer it up – and make you smile!
The BRF centenary rose comes in a pot, ready to plant, at £32.00. Profits raised support our work to enable all ages to grow in faith.