Holy smoke – St Helen’s train is always on time

Canon Ron Greenall, the Rev Andrew Wilkinson and his son George enjoy running the Canon's model railway at the St Helen's Churchtown Patronal Flower Festival
Canon Ron Greenall, the Rev Andrew Wilkinson and his son George enjoy running the Canon's model railway at the St Helen's Churchtown Patronal Flower Festival
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It was a new date for an old favourite, but any concerns that a shift from August to May might dent the popularity of the St Helen’s Patronal Flower Festival at Churchtown was quickly dispelled at the weekend.

Crowds turned out to enjoy the event and the Rev Andrew Wilkinson, vicar of St Helen’s and Area Dean of Garstang, declared: “It was a fantastic success in every way.”

The five day festival, which concludes tonight with a concert by the Blackpool Male Voice Choir starting in the church at 7.30pm, had a musical theme, “Let’s Sing”.

Church warden Arthur Ashrbidge said: “The melody and harmony came from a tremendous effort on the part of Lynn Collinson and her dedicated team. ]

“The flower arrangements and exhibits were superb, the refreshments delicious.”

Fellow church warden Sheila Tearle reported: “Visitors were so enthralled by their experience of the festival that they went home to urge their neighbours to visit us also.”

The event also featured a birds of prey flying display and a songs of praise service.

The Patronal Festival Eucharist, on Whit Sunday, was celebrated by Canon Ron Greenall, who also fulfilled his traditional role at the festival by taking along his model railway and setting it up for visitors.

Noting that a lot of vicars are rail enthusiasts he explained: “Vicarages are often large houses allowing space for permanent layouts....There is a power, grandeur and Godlike nature in the steam engine too.”

The St Helen’s Patronal Festival is traditionally held in August, but the Anglican church calendar allows it to be celebrated in May.