Droxford, Meonstoke and Exton Churches all collect items for the Meon Valley Food Bank, now based in Wickham every week.
We support Christian Aid and members of the benefice participate by walking every May to raise money. Over £1000 is raised each year.
At the moment we hold an All Age service once a month in St Andrew’s, which in practice tends to be aimed at small children, with action songs and craft. Numbers attending are variable, but there has been an encouraging trend. We have a Bible Buddy Scheme, where an adult donates money to buy a Bible for a child in the congregation and then becomes the child’s bible buddy. During the last two years we have organised Christmas parties at St Andrew’s Church for local children, mainly from Meonstoke School. These have been well attended.
Messy Church, before the Pandemic, was a regular and popular feature of our ministry to our local schools. Meonstoke School, one of the two parts of the Meon Valley Federation, is a Church of England Infant School and the governing body has four Foundation Governors, who among their other duties, support the schools in the respective identities. In normal times, members of the ministry team support both our infant and junior schools in collective worship on a regular basis.
Meonstoke has an Infant School and adjacent to it is the recently rehoused Valley Pre-School (a major fund-raising success by the Valley Pre-School Management Committee three years ago). In Droxford, there is Droxford Junior School whilst four miles away Swanmore Technology College is our local secondary school. There is also a Montessori School in Droxford. All our schools are served from the villages by a school bus service. There are also a number of private schools near by. To continue their education, students have a choice of acclaimed sixth form colleges in Winchester (Peter Symonds), Eastleigh (Barton Peverill), Fareham College, Havant (Havant College & South Downs College) and also Alton College.
Each year, the villages hold fetes to raise money for the churches.
Droxford’s Fair is held in early June and is managed by a voluntary group. Many voluntary groups including the Church and the Meon Valley schools, organise stalls and raise money for their causes. In recent years, the Country Fair incorporated a most ambitious D-Day celebration. Droxford played a significant part in the Allied Invasion plans in that Churchill based himself there to liaise with Eisenhower and De Gaulle. Celebrations included re-enactments, historical talks, a splendid collection of period war vehicles, a fancy dress parade, visits to the map room in Southwick House and much more. The church housed a superb D-Day exhibition that drew in many hundreds of people throughout the whole summer.
The annual Church Fete is run for two consecutive years by either Meonstoke or Exton church, offering fun and attractions whilst raising funds for each church. When at Meonstoke, it has been held on the recreation ground at the Meon Hall yet now it is on the beautiful church Green beside St Andrew’s Church. Exton’s fete is held in a private house in the village.
There are a wide range of voluntary organisations active in our villages, including the Community Care Group who provide transport to appointments and hospitals and a Welcome service operated by the Church. Other active interest groups are: Royal British Legion, Gardening Club with annual shows, the ‘Meonwarra’ ladies group, Saxon’s Men’s Group, Riverside Players (Play Reading), Singing groups and Cubs and a film night.
The Local Area
The Bridge Benefice is in the beautiful South Downs National Park, interwoven with such trails as the South Downs Way, the Wayfarers Walk and St Wilfrid’s Pilgrimage Trail which bring many visitors to the area and its churches. It is close to Bishop’s Waltham, a thriving traditional small town. We are in the Diocese of Portsmouth, with the Cathedral Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, the Cathedral of the Sea, in the historic city of Portsmouth.