December 2018

From the Dragons’ Den     

On a recent trip to Italy, visiting several places including Florence, Pisa and Sienna, we viewed some beautiful sights and wondered, as often before, on the talent of those who imagined, envisaged and were responsible for the creation of such beauty.

Visiting Florence, we were able to enjoy and wonder as we soaked up the impact of the Baptistry with its golden doors, the Uffizi Museum with its hundreds of paintings and sculptures and the Duomo with its spectacular walls of marble.  We learned a little about the significance of the colours of marble used in the domed Cathedral – white, green and pink; white to signify Faith, green to signify Hope, pink to signify Love or Charity – ‘Faith, Hope and Love!’

(I can now understand why my favourite colour is green – as I am usually optimistic and always full of hope for the future whatever may be happening all around.)

Approaching Pisa, we were informed that the area is known as The Square of Miracles and as we entered through an archway we could see the reason for this.  We had always imagined that the Leaning Tower of Pisa stood alone and were bowled over as we walked through the said arch where, laid before us, were the Baptistry, the Cathedral, the Cemetery and the Leaning Tower. Breath-taking!


We spent a long time in the Baptistry and, after climbing (crawling) up the 69 steps to the balcony, we assimilated and appreciated the beauty and the magnificence of this place.  As we stood and marvelled from above, the woman who had taken our tickets at the door, walked to the centre and, standing by the font, she uttered sounds/notes, without words, which soared up heavenwards due to the wonderful acoustics of this place; giving praise!

Such experiences, if we are open to them, can change our life and our feelings about what we see. Even here, in our small corner, there is always hope and there is always beauty, although sometimes these may become clouded by what is happening around us.

A good lesson to learn from observing Little Dragons is that, whatever is happening, there is always tomorrow, a new experience, new joys – and maybe sorrows. Oh, that we were able to keep the innocence and innocent beliefs of these little people! For them St. George’s Church centre aisle and West End Room become their Square of Miracles for a short time each week.  Hopefully, the wonder they experience in their lives in these early years will remain with them throughout their lives.

Best wishes, Val Butterworth

November 2018

From the Dragons’ Den

November already!  For me, a good time of year – or, a not-good time of year.  It’s the birthday month and, although it used to be a really exciting prospect, well, now I am not so sure!

I was looking at photographs of early Little Dragon days recently and remembering those little tots aged 1,2 and 3 now being 13, 14 and 15. Meeting some of them still and seeing how they are developing into responsible nearly-adults, it is good to know that we at Little Dragons have perhaps made a positive input into their characters and values.

Perhaps you, as I do, think back to your own early days.  Some memories go back many, many years – maybe pre-school, early and later school days.

My own earlyish memories involve air-raid shelters, gas masks, sweet coupons and the appearance of whale meat on one horrendous occasion.  No one else in the family would touch it but I – possibly being rather hungry, downed the lot – not a good memory.

So many memories over so many years.  Some memories are crystal clear, others are less clear and may be coloured by bigger events going on around one at the time.

When reading newspapers or viewing news programmes on TV it would be easy to get quite depressed about how the world will develop and affect the lives of today’s youngsters – the current crop of Little Dragons who play and learn, apparently without any cares other than whether the red car or big bike are free to use.

We can continue to do our utmost to make these little lives the very best, along with our prayers for a wonderful future.

Best wishes, Val Butterworth

P.S.        Best wishes, George,  Uncle Sam  and Idris.

October 2018

From the Dragons’ Den

George writing, assisted by Uncle Sam and Idris:

So, what’s all this thing, ‘Fruitfulness’ about?  We remember a few months ago some of our Senior Dragons taking about it and now they are at it again.  It must be enjoyable or, at the very least, fruitful, as they seem to be getting a lot out of it.

Idris, who knows about these things (or pretends he does) says that it means how useful something is.  So, we are thinking that this ‘fruitfulness’ journey means that our Senior Dragons and their friends are thinking about how useful they are, or might be, and how they can be even more useful than they have been in the past.  It all sounds very complicated but we are sure that it must be worthwhile or they wouldn’t be doing it.

Our Senior Dragons and all their friends at the church – people called Church Wardens, PCC, Music-makers, Singers, Readers, Intercessors, Sidesmen, Coffee Makers, Washer-uppers, Communicators, Fundraisers, Congregation and someone called Uncle Tom Cobbley, all work really hard to make this place special and we notice how they all try all of the time to make this a good place to be.  They like to help those people called Clergy who tell stories and say prayers and spend all their time helping others.  We think it is really good to look out from our cupboard and to see these people trying their hardest to look after each other and to be ‘fruitful’.

We think that they are also trying to see how they can make their helpfulness, their fruitfulness, reach out further than this place, out into something called The Village and The World Beyond.

It sounds good to us and we hope that we three Little Dragons can help in our small way.

Best wishes, George,  Uncle Sam  and Idris.

September 2018

From the Dragons’ Den

September already.  When did time start to go so fast?  Long gone are the days for some of us when we could dream, dream again and again, before making absolute plans; there was always time to reconsider, rethink, abandon the immediate and dream yet again.

Who can remember and relive in the mind the long days of summer – when the sun always shone, when it never rained; when the beach at Blackpool or Barmouth or Bridlington or Bournemouth was crowded with fantastically constructed sandcastles and the waves were always just the correct depth/height/strength for paddling? Those were the days indeed.

So, how will our Little Dragons remember the hazy days of summer?  Will their memories in the distant future recall sitting in the back of a hot car (Are we there yet?), queuing in a hot airport (Can I sit by the window?), or simply playing games on the tablet?  Or will they also remember with joy, the beaches, as above, time spent with people who loved them who they loved in return, on days that lasted forever.

Sometimes, as the speed of each day, week, month, year gallops faster and faster, it is hard to recall the distant days when the most difficult thing in life may have appeared to be, “What are we having for tea?” or “How shall I spend my sweet coupons?” (Now that is really a long time ago yet real enough for some of us.)

The recollections of our Little Dragons will be very, very different from ours and will, no doubt, be beyond our wildest imaginings.  Let us hope that their lives will provide them with golden memories of happy times.

Best wishes, Val Butterworth

August 2018

From the Dragons’ Den

Holidays are upon us! Time to rest – did I say rest? Time to think – when exactly? Time to enjoy the extra hours in each day when there are no commitments – Hmm – something wrong somewhere – where did those extra hours go?

When I was working as a teacher, the first two weeks of my summer break were always spent in preparing work for the following academic year. Some preferred to leave this preparation until nearer to the new term, but in my case, I preferred to ‘get it over and done with’ so I could then relax for the rest of the holiday, enjoy time spent with family and/or travel to other pastures in order to rejuvenate and refresh.

The end of my last term as a teacher and as a headteacher brought a new perspective to life.  My husband, knowing that I would find the beginning of the next term slightly odd, and perhaps difficult, suggested that we go away – and we did. On the day that school returnees packed their schoolbags, we boarded a flight to Maldives, to be shortly followed by a flight to Trivandrum in India,  where we spent time back-packing and thoroughly enjoying new scenes, new ways of living and, quite surprisingly, finding a school with the same name as the one I had retired from – a little school in Kerala, where the children giggled with delight as they sang for us.

Follow that, one might think!  We did, by, along with others, setting up St. George’s Little Dragons, Under Fives Group.  We never expected to continue for so many years – now ready to commence our 13th year!  This venture has brought unexpected bonuses in the provision of delightful Under Fives plus Carers who we have been lucky enough to supervise and entertain during those years.  So lucky also in the Senior Dragons who have assisted (initially known as Big Dragons but it was decided that this gave perhaps an unwanted, slightly tricky image.)  Three of the original Seniors are still in post and an original Grandad/Carer and Granny/Carer have been in post since their LDs started at Big School!

Life is full of precious moments and Little Dragon memories fill the heart with gladness. Many thanks to all those who have, and continue, to support us through the years.

Best wishes, Val Butterworth

Visitors are always welcome to share a few moments with us – Tuesdays – 10:00am to 11:30 am during term time!   

July 2018

From the Dragons’ Den

One of our Little Dragons is really keen to demonstrate her prowess at performing a cartwheel and I have promised that at the first opportunity, when the grass in the churchyard is absolutely dry, we will let her show her skill.  ‘Can you do a cartwheel?’ she asked. Oh, to go back thirty years or so, the answer would have been, ‘Yes!’  Best to give no answer at all at present, just give an enigmatic smile (perhaps being mistaken for the Mona Lisa in human form!).

I wonder how many of you can remember managing your first cartwheel, handstand or, excitingly, your first dive-forward roll!  My Dad, who was a teacher, used to run an after-school vaulting club and I, at the age of about eight, used to go along weekly and enjoy several flights through the air as I hurled myself onto the springboard, up into the air in my interpretation of ‘The Flying Angel’, supported by the dependable and strong arms of my Dad.  Wonderful and never to be forgotten.

In the mind I can still feel the joy of running, leaping, hurdling, diving, swimming, trampolining and indulging in many sporting activities. Unfortunately, in the mind is where they will have to remain.  Suffice to say that there is much pleasure to be had in simply walking from here to there, viewing the wonderful world around and sharing the joy of our Little Dragon when she performs her gymnastic feat.

Best wishes, Val Butterworth

P.S.  She did it – rather more of a roll than a wheel, but she did it!     





June 2018

From the Dragons’ Den

You may have seen, or heard of, the Dragon basket. This is where George, Uncle Sam and Idris live. It is their home, and thus, their private place.  Whoever is leading Little Dragons on a particular week is allowed to use the basket, is able to invite our three stalwarts to emerge and allowed to store articles appertaining to the week’s story, rhymes or songs.

Otherwise the basket remains private and Members of Little Dragons respect this.  Well, at least, older members respect this but there are occasions when a little person, who hasn’t learned the rules yet, fancies his, or her, chances of investigating the apparently exciting interior.

It is entirely possible, to tell a story, demonstrate a point, conduct singing or verse speaking, whilst holding the basket lid shut with one’s knees.  This is an art form which has to be gradually developed over time and is known to strengthen the muscles, ligaments and the sense of purpose as one takes on all-comers at any one time.

Gradually, those who would infiltrate the basket, absorb the fact that whatever they do and however hard they try, they are not going to gain access to this special place.  They eventually learn to respect that fact (well if not, hard luck!)

As with all aspects of life there are times and occasions when we also have to demonstrate respect for the privacy and the needs of others.  It isn’t always what we wish to do – there are times when we feel that we may like to know everything and have access to all areas.  However, this is not so and we need always to respect the right of others to have their private places, times and areas of life that they may not wish to share with us.  It’s hard I know as, often, we are trying to be helpful and may easily feel rejected when we feel excluded from a part of someone else’s life or unable to access facilities that are not within our remit.

As with the foraging Little Dragon – H L!                  Best wishes, Val Butterworth

May 2018

From the Dragons’ Den

George and Idris writing!  Uncle Sam is off round the church investigating his Twitter Account. He is keen to keep abreast of happenings in his Home Country and feels that by using Twitter he can keep up to date with important Americans who know things.

We have heard something very interesting!  We have heard that ‘she who must be obeyed’ is going to enjoy a flight in a glider on the 19th May.  We have heard that she received this flight as a very special birthday present for a very special birthday that she recently celebrated.  We have also heard that she is a little uncertain about this venture; a bit terrified is the word she might use.

Idris and I, and of course, Uncle Sam, think that it would be a good idea if we put out a sponsor form to celebrate this event.  We know that Val would like to support the British Heart Foundation and  St. George’s Church, so we think we will put a sponsor form in the WER and also get her to open a GoFundMe page on Facebook.

One of the very kind family members who gave Val the gift of the flight underwent successful heart surgery seven years ago and has worked really hard every since in fund-raising activities, so it would be good to make a gesture towards this worthy organisation. The local branch work ceaselessly in their support of those with heart problems.

We know that Val would also really love to donate an amount to St. George’s, a very special place in her life, where she feels blessed to meet some very special people.

Now, Idris and myself are thinking that, on the BIG DAY, we will sneak a lift up to the Longmynd in Val’s pocket.  Sam is a bit too big, but we two should be able to pull it off.  We think that she won’t notice as she will have her mind full of more important things like – ‘Will I be sick?’  ‘Will I actually return?’

So, all it needs now is for us to set up the sponsor form in the WER.  We hope that you will keep an eye out for it and feel generously disposed to enter your name and sponsor promise.  Or, if you are one of Val’s Facebook Friends, you may care to make a contribution there on her GoFundMe page.

Now, we just need to get ourselves slim and fit ready for our exciting day.

Every good wish, George & Idris.  (Uncle Sam shouts, ‘Bye!’)

April 2018

From the Dragons’ Den

Here we are again, happy as can be. All good friends and jolly good company!

How lucky we are if we have friends and companions who fill us with happiness and joy; who make our days feel good and our lives seem really worthwhile.  Every time we meet at Little Dragons, I give thanks for the opportunities provided for happiness, leaving me with a smile on my face and a light heart.  These little people come along with their Carers (Mums, Dads, Aunties, Grannies, Childminders) and bring such a wealth of love and hope into our church.

It may be, that on occasion, one of our little people may be having ‘a bad day’ and it may be quite a challenge to find the trigger that can bring them to their usual enjoyment.  Sometimes George, Uncle Sam or Idris are brought into play earlier than Storytime, in order to calm a little person whose day seems to have gone completely wrong.

Perhaps we could rent out G, US & I to anyone in our Congregation, or beyond, who is need of cheering up, calming down or has the need to feel that they aren’t alone and that the whole world hasn’t turned against them.  It’s amazing what a five-minute cuddle with one of our residents of the Dragon basket can achieve.

Recently, I came across a biggish, red dragon (ostensibly a hot water bottle cover, I believe), not named yet, which provided solace to one of our members recently. (A Little Dragon member, I add – although I did notice a Senior Dragon eyeing the said dragon up with obvious intent.)

This very Welsh, red dragon has, so far, not acquired a name but I am sure it won’t be long before he does.  I utterly refuse to include him in our LD song, though, which at present consists of 4 verses.  There is really, really not time for another verse, otherwise we will not be enjoying the heights of the hill with the grand Old Duke until mid-afternoon.  It’s a complicated life when one is involved with the glorious fantasy of the Little Dragon World.

Enough of this nonsense!  There is dusting to be done and windows to clean. Not likely! – far more fun to be cutting out reversible happy and unhappy faces!

Keep smiling!    Val

March 2018

From the Dragons’ Den

Signs of Spring!  First of all, snowdrops, then bright golden crocus gleaming on the edge of the lawn, magnolia buds ready to burst forth (hope the wind doesn’t blow too hard this year as it did last year resulting in lots of pinkish-whitish petals strewn across the garden).

For our Little Dragons, changing seasons don’t often affect them.  They enter, follow the usual pathway to their current, chosen item of interest – for some the train set, for some the art and craft table, for some (as ever) the red car before anyone else can take possession.  When security is established they may then move on to something new, perhaps requiring more skill.

As day time follows night time many of us follow the same, or similar patterns, throughout our days.  They are the things that keep us feeling secure, that life is under our control.

An instance in my own life is my kitchen routine first thing in the morning:-

  • Enter kitchen, put water in kettle, switch on, take spoon from drawer;
  • cross to microwave and fridge; put 1 ramekin of porridge oats in bowl, open fridge, take out milk and put 2 ramekins of milk into bowl with porridge – place the bowl into the microwave for 2 minutes; milk back in fridge and take out blueberries, selecting required number for porridge;
  • during the 2 minutes, make tea which usually synchronises with the ping of the microwave.

Boring, possibly – but it enables me to make my breakfast without having to use any mental energy, thus saving it all for more interesting activities.

So it is with many of our LDs as they follow a former pattern prior to moving on to something more exciting or more stretching.  We all need the mundane in our lives while we gather up our creative energy for tackling the unknown or the untried.

My own unknown, untried, certainly not mundane, future activity will be a flight in a glider!  My lovely family decided that this would make a really exciting present on the occasion of a recent birthday.  Very exciting! Will I, like our Little Dragons, pluck up the courage to try the new experience, to leap into the unknown?  Watch this space.

Every good wish, Val