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2 May 2012

Beyond the mask

Sally Campbell (LT pics 2016) Sally Campbell Head of Pastoral Care
White mask

On the evening of Tuesday 24 April, 115 people filled the Above Bar Church auditorium to hear Andy Tedder speak about how we evaluate ourselves and others.

Andy was born with a genetic condition called Treacher Collins syndrome, which causes facial disfigurement. He is a Christian and lives in Bournemouth, where he works as a landscape gardener. In 2011 he was featured in an episode of the Channel 4 documentary series Beauty & The Beast (still available to watch on 4oD).

Ruth Spradbery saw the programme and knew that Andy was a Christian. She decided to get in touch with him. (What did we do before Google?) They met up, and Andy agreed to come and do an event here.

There followed various e-mails and another planning meeting. Meanwhile, we advertised the event in various ways (our website, inView, Facebook, Southampton Christian Network’s website, a video clip in services) but had no idea how many might come. We had planned to hold the event in the top hall, set out in café style with small tables. The day before Beyond the mask, however, it was suggested that quite a few people seemed to be planning to come, and that the auditorium might be more suitable. Ruth and I were unsure — if only 30 people came, we’d rather rattle around!

What clinched it was that the top hall was booked for all of the Tuesday until 6pm, so we took a deep breath and relocated to the auditorium — a decision which kept me awake some of the night before the event!

We were so grateful to various members of the staff team for helping with the logistical implications of the relocation. It was an encouraging start when we saw people flocking in from 7.30pm onwards.

As I sat on the stage interviewing Andy, it was great to look out at such a crowd, and to see a wide range of people — male and female, from teenagers to the more mature, Above Bar Church people and visitors, Christians and some who are still considering the Christian faith.

We heard Andy’s stories and some of his views on the topics we were considering, we had small-group discussion and some thought-provoking (and sometimes amusing!) video clips. And we had jelly beans!

It was a great evening, from which we’ve had lots of positive feedback. If you missed it, you can listen on our Sermons and talks page.

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