REV JENNY GAFFIN: This year all I want for Christmas is yew!

The Rev Jenny Gaffin in front of the treasured yew
The Rev Jenny Gaffin in front of the treasured yew
Jacob Kennard, Gavin Moon, Ian Doyle and Sarah Talboys-Smith with Shanon Rees and Rodney Watson at the front
 at  The Southsea Village holding a ping-pongathon to get people in the fundraising spirit fo Children in Need. Picture : Habibur Rahman

Schools and business across Portsmouth show support for Pudsey

OVER the years, I seem to have made a habit of requesting unusual Christmas presents.

One year at primary school we all had to write letters to Father Christmas. 

I was going through a creative phase at the time and while the other children were asking for expensive toys and the latest computer game, I asked for a roll of Sellotape. 

The teacher was so amused she put my letter up on the notice board, which worried me greatly because I feared Father Christmas would never receive my request.  

Fortunately my teachers reassured me that a copy had been sent to him, and when Christmas came I spent many happy hours sticking things randomly to each other and to the walls of the house.

This year I also have an unusual Christmas request.  At St Mary’s Church on Hayling lsland, we are the proud custodians of a 2,000-year-old yew tree. 

It’s a beautiful tree, of national significance because of its age. 

It’s also a local landmark and a focus point for wildlife in the churchyard.  

Sadly, in recent months it has begun to lean heavily and become unstable, and we have had to fence it off in case branches fall and injure people walking on the path below. 

We have been advised that the tree is otherwise in good health and could live for many centuries to come. 

In order to save it we need to install wooden supports for the tree and we are currently working to raise the £6,000 needed for this work. 

Admittedly it’s a slightly bigger request than my plea for Sellotape, but with the same spirit of hopefulness I’m writing this letter – a sort of Father Christmas letter for grown-ups! 

If you feel moved to contribute to saving the ancient yew tree for future generations, you can give by texting SOAY16 £(amount) to 70070.  

Any help you can offer will be gratefully received.  

With Christmas fast approaching, I hope that you too will receive the gifts you long for. 

And I hope that you enjoy the opportunity that this time of the year gives all of us, to bring a moment of hope and joy into the lives of those you love.

n St Peter’s Church is in St Peter’s Road, Northney.

St Mary’s Church is in Church Road.

St Andrew’s Church is in Southwood Road, Eastoke.

Go to haylinganglicans.moonfruit.com