‘Wonderful Wildlife’ was the theme of the week I signed up for at Othona, Bradwell-on–Sea this summer. It was led by Hayley-Marie Kenney, a bee-keeper from Rugby. Around thirty people had come for the week, including some children of different ages, who enjoyed exploring the beautiful Othona ecosystem.
It was a family-friendly week, with excursions down to the seashore, looking for tiny crabs on the first morning.
The next day we collected seeds in the peace garden and along the sea wall to later be mixed with mud to make into seed bombs, which would be thrown into an area of grassland near the chapel.
Another day we looked for creatures in a pond among the reed beds and one evening we went badger-spotting in the woodland near the community site and some of us did see a flash of black and white crossing the path after some time of waiting, which was quite exciting.
One of the things I enjoy most about being at Othona is going to St. Peter’s Chapel twice a day to attend the services led by different people. There is no electricity in the chapel, so in the evening it is lit by candles, and walking there in the evening, watching the sun set with a panorama of sea and sky all around is amazing.
Inside the chapel, founded by St. Cedd in 654AD, there is a beautiful cruicifix designed by Francis William Stephens, installed there over sixty years ago and St. Cedd is depicted at the foot of it, holding his bishop’s crook. Three stones are set into the altar, one from Lindisfarne, where St. Cedd was trained as a monk, one from Iona where St. Columba founded a monastery and where the Celtic mission of St. Cedd began. The third stone is fom Lastingham, where St. Cedd died of the plague in 664AD.
It is over seventy years now since Revd Norman Motley set up the Othona Community, hoping to promote reconciliation between German and British people after the Second World War.
He encountered considerable opposition and derision, but he was a very determined person and his vision bore fruit with many German people still coming to spend time at Bradwell each year along with people from many other countries.
While I was there there were eight VAPS (Volunteer Action for Peace) students from France, Spain and Italy who helped out with various tasks during their two week stay. They all got on very well together, considering they had never met each other before.
Another of the good things about being at Othona is seeing old friends and making new ones, meeting a diverse mix of people, old and young, able and disabled and gifted in different ways.
If you have never been to stay there, or even to visit for a day, I would recommend it.
Check their website at www.othonaessex.org.uk to find out more about the community and its programme of events.