19 November 2021

To the tune of … St Luke’s

Friend of St Luke’s Canon Alan Meats shares his musical fundraising inspiration

My parish ministry has been spent entirely in south Wales but has spanned three dioceses, namely, my home diocese, Llandaff, the diocese of Swansea and Brecon and the diocese of St. Davids, where I am residentiary canon of the cathedral. (My home town is in fact the birthplace of someone far more celebrated – the pop idol, Tom Jones! Tom was born and brought up three doors from my cousin.)

I was accepted for training in the ministry of the Church in Wales in 1968 and ordained priest in 1971. This year therefore marks the 50th anniversary of my priesthood.

Thank you

I hit on the idea of a project that would promote funds for St Luke’s to coincide with celebrating this special year of my ministry, reflecting on the way in which the charity has such a pivotal role in serving clergy.  I have great cause to thank St. Luke’s for the high standard of care shown to my own kith and kin through many years of ministry.

My first wife, who sadly died in 1997, had recourse to St. Luke’s care a great deal. During the 1970’s and 80’s she was treated for a chronic asthma condition and for orthopaedic problems, with support from St Luke’s. My present wife, Gwendoline, suffers from acute osteoarthritis and spondylitis and two years ago was very grateful to be able to arrange an urgently needed MRI scan on her shoulder, thanks to funding by the charity. This meant that diagnosis and treatment could follow more speedily.

All together now

I felt that my ministry milestone called for a unique effort to focus on the unique service that St Luke’s offers the Church. The project involved producing a booklet of hymns of my composition, distributing them free of charge but inviting recipients to contribute towards the work of St. Luke’s. Several hymns had been used for various occasions during my ministry e.g. a Christingle hymn and a wedding hymn. Copies of these booklets were made available to congregations in the churches that make up the L.M.A. of Llanelli and to local churches where I have led worship during my retirement. Friends of good will, including some living over the border in England, also made contributions.

The aim of producing hymns has proved to be a timely reminder of how much worshippers have missed singing hymns during the period of Covid restrictions. I need not stress that Welsh people in particular are very fond of hymn singing, even at rugby matches! I am delighted to say that the contributions finally amounted to £870.

Friends of St Luke’s

My wife and I became Friends of St. Luke’s because we realise how grateful we, like all clergy and families should be, to have such a service available to us, conscious of the fact that the charity has to rely on parishes, trusts and individual donors.

To my fellow clergy, I would say this: in my personal experience, it has been a privilege to have witnessed among my loved ones such care and attention. Furthermore I would imagine that, apart from any physical conditions that can threaten the wellbeing of us all at any stage in our lives, the recent anxieties and uncertainties caused by the pandemic claim and will no doubt continue to claim our need for support from people like St. Luke’s. It is at times like these that you and yours, I assure you, will be encouraged and blessed by what they provide.