David J. Farley of Plympton, Plymouth, United Kingdom

David J. Farley of Plympton, Plymouth, United Kingdom

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Diana, Princess of Wales 1961 - 1997

With acknowledgement and much gratitude to the eminent royal photographer, Tim Graham, for this stunning picture of Diana taken by him on her last official engagement in Britain in July, 1997.

Friday 31st August, 2007, will mark the 10th anniversary of the death, in a car crash in Paris, of our much loved Diana, Princess of Wales, affectionately known as England's rose. She has gone but she is certainly not forgotten. First and foremost she has given us two wonderful Princes in William and Harry. She would be so proud of them and their achievements. Talking of achievements, I believe she achieved a lasting place in our history books by helping to modernise the Monarchy without sacrificing all of our traditions, thereby securing its future for the 21st century. A miracle in itself. She was a person full of Heavenly compassion. Her charitable work on behalf of Aids patients, her care for terminally ill children, her tireless efforts to rid the world of landmines and hundreds of other causes benefited from her care and love.

As Sir Elton John sang in his Candle in the Wind tribute at her funeral service in Westminster Abbey, "We have lost our nation's golden child. Your candle burned out long before your legend ever will. Goodbye England's rose. We will miss your compassion more than you will ever know" How right he was! I will be thinking of her on Friday 31st. August and remembering her in my prayers. I invite you to do the same. She truly was The People's Princess. We miss her so much.
Forever in our memories. Rest in peace Diana.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Forest fires in the Canary Islands

With reference to my earlier postings concerning the recent forest fires in the Canary Islands. Thanks to the kindness of a personal friend of mine in Gran Canaria who has sent me an article from the island's RTN newspaper I can describe the latest information available to me. It is reported to be the worst ever ecological disaster to hit the islands. 4,200 people on Tenerife and 5,200 on Gran Canaria were forced to evacuate their homes. More than 500 people were fighting the flames on the ground with dozens of fire-fighters airlifted in from throughout the Canary Islands. Ten special fire fighting helicopters joined the efforts to stem the blaze. The flames have now affected 10,000 hectares of land in four separate municipalities on Gran Canaria. An area of more than 13,000 hectares has been zoned off on Tenerife. Temperatures have reached a sizzling 122 degrees Fahrenheit and strong winds aggravated the problem.

A forest guard who has admitted setting light to the fire, and also gave the warning to the authorities, when his contract was due to run out, has been remanded to prison without bail.

The blaze was, at its height, travelling at a speed of 13 metres per second!

Sadly, fire-fighters had to abandon their attempts to save Palmitos Park and the nearby hotel. Unconfirmed reports indicate that around 60 per cent of the animals perished in the fire, despite initial reports that they had all been rescued.

This is certainly a disaster that will live in the minds of Canary Islanders and thousands of loyal regular visitors for many years to come and my thoughts and prayers are with them every day.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Funding for historic places of worship

I recently signed an online petition to our Prime Minister calling upon the government to increase funding to help preserve our ancient churches. The petition read as follows:-

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to arrange for the cost of repairs to C of E church buildings to be reimbursed to help preserve our archeological & historic heritage for the future."

Details of Petition:

"Churches are a valuable part of our heritage and a major tourist attraction, yet the funding of repairs is left to the parish in which the building is situated. Thus the cost of maintaining a national asset is left to the minority. This is grossly unfair and should be rectified."

The Prime Minister has now responded to the petition and here is his response:-

The Government is committed to the preservation of our historic churches and faith buildings, in view of their contribution to the heritage of this country and the vital community services often undertaken by those associated with churches and faith groups. There is a substantial package of support, both directly, and through sponsored bodies and Lottery schemes which averages around £60 million each year.

Over 8,500 faith buildings have benefited under the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme, which has made grants totalling over £54 million since 2001. The scheme was extended in the 2006 Budget to cover further elements of expenditure on church repairs, including professional fees and repairs to some fixtures and fittings. One thousand buildings have benefited from grants made under the joint English Heritage/Heritage Lottery Fund repair scheme, which has this year paid out nearly £25 million. The Churches Conservation Trust also cares for 340 churches that are no longer required for worship, and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport funds the Trust with £3 million each year.

Any decisions on the level and nature of future Government funding for church buildings will need to be taken as part of the ongoing Comprehensive Spending Review, and Government spending plans for the 2008 to 2011 period will be made public later in the year.