After some 20 years, former leaders of the church’s Pilot and SWAPS groups came together to reminisce over dinner at ‘Tia’s’ Mexican Restaurant, Claypath, Durham, to remember the ‘good old days’ and to enquire ‘what ever happened to all those children?’
For those who may not know, Pilots is a non-uniformed ecumenical Christian organisation for children and young people between the ages of 5 and 18 sponsored by the URC. Durham Pilots met in the church hall every Friday night during school terms. SWAPS (Something Worthwhile After Pilots) was the older group of pilot teenagers that met afterwards with the minister and leaders in the Manse.
The get-together had been planned to take place during the church’s 150th church anniversary celebrations, so it was even more enjoyable to look forward to an extra special event a couple of months later.
The leaders and their partners recounted the many enjoyable Friday nights spent together during the years 1997-2003; the national Pilot weekends held at Cadbury’s World, Bournville, Birmingham and Legoland, Windsor which we visited; the special annual Pilot church service and local outings to Hamsterley Forest, picnics and BBQs at Malton, Lanchester; street parties, swimming afternoons and the millennium time capsule buried somewhere in the church garden (see picture). Photographs of these events were distributed around the dinner table. They made us smile!
Many of the children we discovered had gone on to lead successful careers in a variety of professions, some of whom are now happily married and have children of their own, We understand some of the pilot children have left the city and are now living in other parts of the country, some we know are serving in the Armed Services, one happily married in Singapore, another in Brazil!
A great evening was had by all: We shall meet again!
Revd Ray Anglesea
Ash Wednesday, 2023