Young Voices

Register to join this unique event on Thursday, 10th September evening, where we get an opportunity to hear from a young speakers about “An aspect of their faith, religion or culture that they particularly enjoy” , followed by Q&A

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Grand Zoom Quiz on 11th June 2020

On a windy June night 25 members of the AIG “Zoomed” in to in our biennial quiz night. Angela Fowler, our quiz-maker extraordinaire, devised and hosted a stimulating, witty and fast-paced series of rounds that kept us guessing to the end. Robert Shields, our tech wizard, ensured that we could listen, talk and laugh. He also contributed a creative round of picture riddles and musical conundrums. We congratulate the winners, Val and Peter Heywood on their great score.

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Chairman’s Report – AGM 5th May 2020

A significant contribution of the Altrincham Interfaith Group is that it provides us with a way of meeting and making friends with people from different backgrounds. As a speaker from a previous shared meal once said “Learning about other faiths enables you to better understand your own”. This last year has provided us with many opportunities for making friends and for learning about the faith of others.

On 25th June, we enjoyed a spirited Cultural Entertainment Evening when Ann Angel skilfully hosted contributions from the Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Jewish communities. We had bagpipes, singing accompanied by a guitar, Hindu dancing, Muslim story-telling and Jewish choir singing. There was frequent lively audience participation in the singing. A capacity audience of all ages thoroughly enjoyed the evening in All Saints Church Hall, Hale Barns.

On 11th July, there was an informative talk on “The Buddhist Path” by Ken Garrod at Westleigh, St Vincents Church. About 40 people attended this fascinating talk. The speaker answered questions readily and helpfully.

Altrincham Interfaith Group members supported the November Remembrance Day events locally, laying wreaths at the cenotaphs.

On November 21st Rev Bruce Thompson gave the Alf Keeling Memorial Lecture at St Ambrose Preparatory School, Hale Barns. His title was “The Responsibility of Faith in an Age of Impunity – how we might challenge the irresponsible words and actions that are disfiguring society”. It was lively and very relevant coming three weeks before the General Election. The audience of about fifty responded to his call to tackle the innuendo and hate messages on social media and in society. There was a thoughtful question and answer session afterwards.

Representatives of AIG have attended wider Interfaith occasions, including the Mayor of Trafford’s meeting on Community Cohesion; the unveiling of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi at Manchester Cathedral; and two very moving Holocaust occasions, a Study Day at Menorah Synagogue and the Trafford Commemoration at the Waterside Plaza, Sale.

On February 15th we held the Shared Meal at Altrincham Grammar School for Boys. The Mayor of Trafford, Councillor Rob Chilton, attended together with 160 guests. After opening prayers by Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Muslim representatives, we enjoyed a delicious meal provided by members show-casing their unique styles of cooking. The address was given by a member of the Hindu Community, Ghanshyam Nabar, who spoke interestingly and personally about his Hindu faith. Everyone who was there felt the friendship and warmth of the occasion and the way people from different communities mixed together.

Since mid-March we have not been able to meet due to the coronavirus lockdown but electronic communication has taken place. On April 16th seven of us had a social Zoom meeting. We were able to share the ways different communities are keeping in touch with each other, practising their faith and carrying out social service during these unusual times.

I’d like to thank the committee for their support during the year. We are so fortunate in the services of our superlative secretary, Carolyn Jones. She keeps us in touch and co-ordinates our activities with skill and good humour – even when the computer lets her down! We are also grateful for the accountancy skills of our treasurer Gordon Levy. This year he successfully managed to secure a grant from Trafford Council which covered the hiring charge of the hall for our shared meal. Ann has ably facilitated the work of the Social Committee – on which more other members would be most welcome. Our Facebook page is kept up to date by Azhar Rasul, Cedric Knipe, Kaushik Chakraborty and Carolyn. Cedric regularly sends our contributions to the Messenger newspaper.

I hope this report gives a flavour of some of our activities this year. Thank you all for your support.

Mrs Ruth Neal (Chairman AIG)


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Shared Meal -15th Feb

Interfaith thrives in Altrincham

On Saturday 15th February an important event took place in Altrincham – 150 people of all faiths braved the wind and the rain to meet and share food and friendship under the auspices of Altrincham Interfaith Group.  When our newspapers and the media appear to full of division in society, whether it be Brexit, HS2 or just politics in itself, it is heartening to see people of all faiths getting on together and having a good time.  The event was attended by Mayor of Trafford Councillor Rob Chilton and his Chaplain Reverend Barbara Sharp and the Chief Inspector of Police in Trafford, Zeashan Nasim with his wife Dawn while the guest speaker was Hindu Ghanshyam Nabar whose work involves creating commercial links between India and Greater Manchester. He talked about the origin of Hinduism and how interfaith is so important in maintaining co-existence and social integrity.

Adults and children from different faith traditions offered prayers to start the evening and then the “Bring and Share” meal began, comprising Kosher and vegetarian starters provided by various Jewish communities, the main meal by the Hale and Altrincham Muslim Association with contributions from both Hindus and Ahmadiyya Muslims while delicious desserts were provided by the local Christian and Unitarian Churches and Chapels. It was a great example of togetherness and the room buzzed with chatter and enjoyment. Thanks go to Altrincham Grammar School for Boys for use of their dining hall for the occasion and to Trafford Council for a Community Cohesion grant to help fund the event.  Part of the money raised will go towards to Mayor of Trafford’s Charities: Manchester Foundation Trust Charity, in particular Wythenshawe, Altrincham and Trafford hospitals, the Alex Hulme Foundation and the Society for Abandoned Animals.

Group photo from left to right: Mayor of Trafford Councillor Rob Chilton, AIG Chair Ruth Neal, Ghanshyam Nabar (guest speaker), Radhika Nabar and Chief Inspector Zeashan Nasim  ©Paul Fertig 2020.

Carolyn Jones (Hon. Sec., Altrincham Interfaith Group)

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The Alf Keeling Memorial Lecture November 21st 2019

The Alf Keeling Memorial Lecture was our contribution to Interfaith Week 2019. About 50 people came to hear Rev Bruce Thompson from Lincoln, ex-minister at Timperley Methodist Church, talk on “The Responsibility of Faith Communities in an Age of Impunity.” He addressed the problem of hate crime, of people saying whatever they like without any thought of the consequences, and with no shame. How people in power have no qualms about lying and social media is a perfect platform for venting anger. How we seem to have lost our moral compass.

He structured his talk about an experience he had when a car driver nearly knocked him off his bicycle – he instinctively felt anger and was about to raise a clenched first when he saw the driver was a beloved, elderly parishioner, a “saint,” and so his fist changed into a wave and his angry shout to a mild “Hello Mary.” He concluded from this that there are people in charge of things that can endanger life. That people are prone to anger when their safety and security are threatened. That they are placated when they know the person who is making the threats and also that there are consequences if one follows through the intended actions (i.e. if he had denounced the parishioner in church). He talked about the breakdown in our society, and how anonymity is a factor in our behaviour these days. How society has become disconnected and we do not know each other anymore, which produces hostility. His response to this was a plea not to become complacent about anti-Semitism and islamophobia. Not to laugh at racist or anti-Semitic jokes and not to become complicit in hate. Instead, to eat, share food and laugh together with other faiths. Stand by each other and rise up against populism and prejudice. He told us not to lose heart but to fill social media with kindness and goodness to counteract the hate.
It was a passionate and very timely address – I think we were all moved by it, especially now when there is so much aggression and uncertainty in the country.
After his address there were some questions and then he was presented with a book token to swell his already large library. People then were able to mingle and chat over a drink and biscuits.
Once again our thanks go to St Ambrose Preparatory School for their generous hospitality.

Carolyn Jones (Hon. Sec., Altrincham Interfaith Group)

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