Ammerdown Evaluation 2018

What went well:

  • I’m pleased with how the quiz went overall. I’ve had several supportive comments from people who participated, including from parents of some of the children. They especially valued the all-age aspect of the quiz, with the separate picture round giving something for younger ones to work on when the difficult questions were being asked.
  • The walk was lovely.
  • Range of activities
  • Welcoming atmosphere for children
  • Accommodation
  • Catering
  • Ammerdown staff
  • Willing participation of everyone
  • I took away a feeling of wellbeing. I will be more relaxed with people I did not know before the weekend.
  • Utterly fab
  • I was feeling a bit ambivalent about coming to Ammerdown – I do find noisy children rather difficult to cope with and worried that it wouldn’t work but my fears were totally unfounded. For me, it worked superbly, because there were always options of ‘adults only’ sessions, of wandering off or retiring to a quiet place. And in fact it was a joy to see the children enjoying themselves.
  • The mixing up of people on tables on the first evening was a good idea – it meant we didn’t sit with those we knew. And put us in mixed teams for the quiz.
  • I had a lovely time, learnt things I didn’t know, met new people and deepened Friendships. Above all I came away with real sense of a caring community in Redland Friends, which included those who weren’t able to be there.
  • Range of ages esp children and younger friends joining in.
  • Programme worked well. Ammerdown good venue : daffodils and spring flowers a  delight.
  • Time to chat to old friends and make new ones.
  • I was anxious about combined children and adults’ activities but it all worked wonderfully
  • Appreciated the funding support
  • My abiding impression, as ever, is Ammerdown: the woods, the chapel, the garden in which topiary and celandine were near, if fleeting, neighbours; the lake, views over field – all conducive to contemplation and, for me this year, an enrichment of conversation with a Friend whom I have long liked and admired but with whom I had not previously had leisured conversation.
    Along with the kind welcome of the staff, it was a pleasure to find on my bed a poem, chosen by Isobel Clark and Judy Nile. I turned to it several times before bringing it to the session led by Isobel in which, with the poems that had greeted others, it contributed to enjoyable and, at times moving, interchange.
    Roger Sturge could hold forth for many hours on Quakers past and present, here and elsewhere;  but, in the session on Quaker history, he was content to provide the stimulus for a conversation that ranged enjoyably within and beyond Quakerism
    I work with words, and welcomed the opportunity to use my hands in the craft session.
    Barbara Cummard  had encouraged us to hold paint brushes so that they approached being extensions of our hands. Finding that, in putting paint on palette, I had coloured my hand, I decided to dispense with the brush and use my finger instead – Liberation. But I thought it a pity that what I had taken as an invitation to co-operate involved our defacing each other’s work.
    Shortage of time and the mixture of adult and young people put limits on what Jenni Harris could achieve in the drama session that I attended; but there were fruitful moments  – at one point we worked in pairs, Jenni asking us to learn what we could about each other, after which I was able to tell the group something of Malachi’s holiday in New Zealand. When asked what he had learned about me he said, ‘Charles likes asking questions.’
    I would be happy if the next Ammerdown weekend came twelve months hence, not twenty-four. But that might impose an unfair burden on those who laboured to make the event so rich.

Even better if:

  • I was a bit concerned about the lavish use of linen tablecloths and napkins. I feel that this goes against our Quaker testimonies to simplicity and sustainability.
  • A couple of times sessions overran, meaning that people felt a bit rushed at times (particularly during the Quiz). Perhaps a ten minute bell could be rung to give a reminder to session organisers and encourage them to give people time for a shuffle break.
  • COCOA – this was definitely missed by all (including a significant number of adults) on the second night. I’d recommend having cocoa every night, particularly as it brings people together in an informal way.
  • A small point but I’d have found it helpful to have a simple list of the names of the people who were there – just to help put names to faces and then remember the names!
  • The interesting ‘adults only’ talks stand out for me – Lucienne’s and Roger’s, and Fiona’s workshop.

 Special moments:

  • Some particularly special moments for me were the sense of quietly coming together during Epilogue and the Taize chants.
  • I came with my three grandchildren and thought that everything was really perfect for them. They found it magical and everyone bonded with the children very successfully.
  • I got to know people better and enjoyed the mix of ages. The whole weekend was extremely well organised. Thank you
  • The main thing was getting to know people I didn’t know before – and spending time with those I did know.
  • Also just spending time out in those beautiful surroundings was refreshing.
  • Loved random acts of kindness particularly the anonymous messages
  • Happy relaxed weekend a moment out of the world of phones and TV
  • Loved the singing

Learning:

  • Suzanna (one of Cato’s children) was very patient with me whilst I attempted to make a peace crane. I really valued the “get stuck in” attitude to the all-age gathering.
  • You asked in your evaluation questionnaire what actions someone might take after the Ammerdown weekend. Well, Christopher has just bought me an anthology of some of U A Fanthorpes’ poems.
  • Not that I have had much of a look in yet, as he is immersed in it himself this evening!
  • How wise Quakers are to treat words with care. They are so precious.
  • Have continued singing to myself every day, in the car or doing chores.