This month we say farewell to two of our staff at St Mary’s, Sunny Walker-Kier our Parish Administrator, and Tyrone Whiting, our Director of Music. Both leave us with a real sense of sadness, but having served us very well in their different ways.
Sunny has been our Parish Administrator since 2010. Serving us in the Office has been very much a vocation for Sunny, an extension of her Christian life in which her secretarial and administrative skills can be used for the service of God’s people. She has gone out of her way to be as helpful as possible to the variety people who contact the office, often going the extra mile to ensure that an event or a service of some kind goes as well as it can be. I’m particularly grateful for the way in which she has covered my back when I’ve overlooked something, bringing her customary thoroughness to bear by reminding me or checking that a particular thing needs to be done. More than once I’ve got out of a tricky oversight thanks to Sunny’s support and willingness to assist.
Many people at St Mary’s though will be grateful to Sunny for her straightforward kindness. A few years ago we had a teamworking day in which we each were invited to discover our working style and share it with others. It didn’t surprise me when Sunny’s revealed a deep desire to ensure that others are happy and looked after (she is great at remembering birthdays and her stollen and coffee gatherings just before Christmas have always been a relaxed moment in the days leading up to Christmas!). Many people will miss her familiar presence and her obliging way of trying to serve St Mary’s.
We will be saying goodbye to Sunny on Sunday 18th March at the 11am service after which there will be a Parish Lunch (with an Austro-German theme I’m given to understand!), and you can give a donation towards a farewell gift for Sunny by sending it to David Britten in the Parish Office from Monday 5th February.
18th March is also the day we shall be welcoming our new Director of Music, James Potter. But before that, on Sunday 11th February both in the morning and in an evening concert, we say farewell to Tyrone Whiting, who has been Director of Music since 2012, having been organ scholar previously. By its very nature the role of Director of Music is a very public one, and after the clergy, Ty has been the most visible contributor to our worship, as well as a truly entrepreneurial organiser of concerts and recitals. When I first arrived, I was told that putting on concerts at St Mary’s was nigh-on impossible because the location was difficult to access. Ty has proved that entirely wrong, and we now have two series of recitals which continue to be well-attended as well as other special concerts.
I will be saying more about Ty in the farewell concert but, for those unable to be present, I want to say that St Mary’s owes Ty an enormous debt. Musical life under his Directorship has flourished: choir numbers remain solid, even with the usual comings and goings of Battersea life, and the standard of music making has truly grown as Ty has worked hard to improve technique and choral singing. That he has done this in a choir where, by virtue of its voluntary nature people are present at a practice and then not at the service, or away at Choir practice but then present at the service, makes it all the more remarkable. Ty has worked hard at the solid core of choral singing – diction, listening to one another and many other things – and he has had a great response from our wonderful choir who have consistently delivered the goods. His organ playing is outstanding and there have been many occasions when I have discovered him at practice in church, which has set an example for the Organ Scholars he has ably recruited and helped grow in confidence and technique.
The last few months have been understandably frustrating for Ty, as he has awaited the granting of his visa to work in the United States, but he has turned frustration into something positive, with the creation of the online Advent Calendar, which received hundreds if not thousands of views on our Facebook page.
I do hope you will come to the concert on Sunday 11th at 7pm or, failing that, the service at 11am on that Sunday morning. We are losing a Director who has taken St Mary’s to his heart and, I know, has received a similar warm response from many in life of our wonderful church, me included.