The announcement of a nationwide rail strike on 8th October came as disastrous news for our 50th anniversary celebrations in Westminster. Over 40,000 RMT members from Network Rail and fifteen operating companies will take to picket lines, effectively shutting down the entire railway network on that date.
Given that hundreds of our members simply will not be able to get to London, we have, with very great regret, decided to postpone the celebrations planned for 8th October at Westminster Abbey and Church House. We are working closely with the Abbey and Church House to find a new date in 2023. As soon as this has been confirmed, we will write again in the hope that many of you will be able to carry forward your bookings to the new date. Where necessary, refunds will be issued for lunch tickets.
This is extremely disappointing news for everyone, especially at such short notice; and I hope you will understand that we (our President, Ecclesiastical Patron and Trustees) only made this decision because we believed it to be absolutely necessary under the circumstances.
We are aware that a number of members have already made arrangements to stay in London over the weekend of the planned celebrations. We have therefore organised an event on a much smaller scale to be held at St James', Garlickhythe, on 8th October. This is not a replacement for our national celebration of the 50th anniversary of the PBS which will still be held at the Abbey on a date to be confirmed in the near future.
The event at Garlickhythe on 8th October will include a Sung Communion at 11.00am followed by a buffet lunch; after lunch, the Revd Tim Handley will give a talk which will be followed by a simple service of Evensong. We are delighted to report that the preacher at the Sung Communion will be the Bishop of Southwark, and we are most grateful to our friends at Garlickhythe for making this event possible at very short notice.
Anyone wishing to take lunch is asked to email the PBS Office, stating any dietary requirements. As you will appreciate, there is real urgency to confirm numbers with the catering firm. Under the circumstances, we are not setting a fixed price for lunch, however donations will be invited on the day.
St James' church is located very close to Mansion House tube station (exit on Garlick Hill). The London Underground is not affected by the strike, however trains are likely to be busier than normal.
We are deeply sorry for the disappointment that this message will bring to so many of you. We will look forward to seeing some of you at Garlickhythe on 8th October, and hopefully many more of you as and when we are able to gather from all parts of the country for our national celebration of the Society's half-century.
With all good wishes,
Chairman, The Prayer Book Society