There was a very pleasant surprise in store for the scores of families and friends who descended on picturesque Oakfield Park, near Raphoe, on Saturday morning for the first Diocesan Family Fun Day since the start of the Covid pandemic. The all-aged gathering was blessed with warm and dry conditions, allowing umbrellas and raincoats to remain out of sight.

The fun day had been organised jointly by SEEDS Children’s Ministry and the Diocesan Mothers’ Union whose hearts must have been buoyed by the sight of dozens of children using the playground, family groups picnicking in the award-winning gardens, and chattering groups waving and laughing as they were transported round the park – past the castle and around the reeded lake – on a busy miniature train.

There was, of course, a significant spiritual element to the day. Proceedings began with prayers, just after arrival, led by our Diocesan Children’s Officer Kirsty McCartney, with music provided by Rev Johnny McFarland. Bishop Andrew Forster was there, to share a few words of welcome. These were followed by a joyful and comedic rendition of “the whole Bible story” by the drama duo ‘Play It by Ear’, which enthralled and amused both young and ‘young at heart’.

The park’s ‘Fairy Tree’ was transformed for the day into a prayer tree, upon which parishioners of all vintages were invited to hang prayers which they had been encouraged to write and then commit to God.