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Chloe is honoured for 30 years of service to toddlers

Parents and children have helped to honour the unstinting service of Chloe Gill who, over 30 years, has run a parents and toddlers group at Our Lady and the English Martyrs in Cambridge, reports Mel Ward.

On July 17, Chloe was presented with a Memory Book of photos and messages from as far as the USA from so many for whom the group was an oasis of love and laughter over the last 30 years.  In addition, Chloe was presented with a Bishop’s Medal and certificate by Canon Eugene Harkness after Mass at OLEM on August 4.

Over the last 30 years, Wednesday mornings in the parish centre have seen tears of hilarity, exhaustion and grief during what for many can be some of the most joyful, but isolating, financially insecure and emotionally demanding years of our lives.

‘Toddler Masses ‘ for young families were happy and inclusive and where, led by Fr Tony, Fr Dick, Fr Raf and Fr John, parents who otherwise felt overwhelmed by the challenges of ‘managing’ small children in a Sunday Mass were warmly welcomed and saw their children drawn lovingly into the Mystery of the Mass.

Everyone was welcome and many long-standing friendships made. Chloe’s deep sense of justice and sound common sense supported many of us and her M&S rolls with cheese and robustly brewed coffee sustained us all.

The messages written in the memory book are a deeply moving testament to the vital and necessary role of such nurturing in the church. For those without friends and family in Cambridge vital bonds were made. We learned from her the possibilities of, as Saint Teresa says ‘doing small things with great love’.

The development of such a strong vibrant, active lay Catholic community in Cambourne, the running of the OLEM youth group and many other fruits were nurtured in an atmosphere of openness and faith where the seeds of baptism were able to flourish in both children and carers.

Weekly days out in the summer to keep contacts took us to many parks and paddling pools and weekly art and craft with Annette and music with Angela kept us all entertained.

Two of her daughters, Tibba and Annie, and her husband Andrew have helped her greatly in the past few years as she has lost her sight and now uses a guide dog, but she has carried on relentlessly.

I , like so many others, am so grateful that my children had a grounding in faith in a group that was like no other where theological debate, medical and educational advice and massage, modelling, mess, the occasion mayhem and simply enjoying each other’s company took place naturally.

Thank you Chloe from the bottom of all our hearts for your humble and uplifting ‘Magnificat’.

Pictured above is Chloe Gill (centre) with one of the mums, Tanya, and a previous toddler group user, Anastasia.