Coronavirus Covid-19

We intend to use this page for links and other information specifically about the virus and the church's response to it. Please also see our News Page for a daily prayer and other changing items, and our Benefice Service page for a weekly service for us all to share.


Church of England

We are now allowed to open the churches for private prayer only. Initially, it has been decided to open the churches in the benefice at particular times of the day, so that the buildings might be discretely supervised and surfaces cleaned after each visit. When you visit one of our churches there will be someone in church to welcome you, guide you to an area where you will be able to sit quietly and also answer any questions you may have.

The following are the current times of opening, but it is hoped that as more people volunteer to supervise, we may be able to offer more times.

Compton – Wednesday from 9 am to 10 am.
Hursley – Saturday from 10 am to 11 am
Otterbourne – every Monday to Friday from 9 am to 10 am.

Please check the News page regularly for updates on changes to these times.


Sunday services continue to be held in all three churches in the benefice. For details on how services are being conducted, please refer to the following links:

It must be said that it is still the advice from the government and the Church of England that anyone in a vulnerable group, eg., over 70 years of age, or having a pre-existing condition, should not attend gatherings of people, including church services. We cannot guarantee anyone's complete safety, even though we will follow the guidelines for social distancing and hand hygiene and the wearing of face coverings.

Face coverings

The current guidance from the House of Bishop's Recovery Group regarding face coverings is as follows:

"Face coverings are currently mandatory on public transport and in a range of indoor venues including places of worship and church halls. While there are exemptions, outlined below, this is a legal requirement.”

" Face coverings should be worn by the president and anyone assisting at the time of distribution of the consecrated bread.
   Face coverings need not be worn by worshippers when they consume the consecrated bread."

For those of you who would like to know, these are the exemptions:

"You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. This includes:

• Those who are leading services or events in a place of worship, and those who assist them (for instance by reading, preaching, or leading prayer) do not always need to wear a face covering, although one should be worn especially if physical distancing cannot be maintained (i.e. distributing consumables) This exemption does not apply to worshippers, who should wear face coverings consistent with the requirements for any other public space.
• These exemptions will also cover the bride and groom at a wedding and those officiating at the wedding.
• These exemptions are made to enable communication, particularly with those who rely on lip-reading, facial expressions or clear sound; they do not exempt clergy and other leaders from wearing face coverings in other situations or during other activities.
There are a range of other reasons for not wearing a face covering, including:
• young children under the age of 11
• not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
• if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
• if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
• to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
• to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
• to eat or drink, but only if you need to
• to take medication
• if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering
There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering when asked:
• If asked to do so by shop staff for the purpose of age identification
• If speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound."
What is new is that a small choir is now allowed to sing - this is the new guidance from the C of E’s House of Bishop’s Recovery Group:

"It is now permissible for both professional and non-professional singers and musicians to perform in small groups to people inside and outside of buildings in line with the recommendations for physical distancing and hygiene set out by the Government in their performing arts guidance.
This includes those who regularly volunteer to do music and singing, as part of a choir for example, to perform as a part of worship.

Congregations are still at this time not permitted to sing as part of worship.
Wherever possible people should continue to physically distance from those they do not live with, venues, performers and audiences should be matched to ensure 2m distancing applies and the number of performers should be limited.
Those assisting with worship through music or singing do not always need to wear a face covering, but face coverings or screens should be used if physical distancing cannot be maintained.”

So vocal music can now return to our churches with congregations joining in by quietly speaking the words. It isn’t perfect, but it is progress.

Guidance for Churches page can be found at this address:

You may also like to look at the Church On Line page here:


Helping others to understand the Coronavirus pandemic

The Coronavirus pandemic is a worrying and uncertain time for us all.  It’s hard adjusting to a different lifestyle and constantly having to think about keeping safe.  There are certain sections of our society who will find this current situation particularly difficult to cope with, I’m referring to children and those with learning difficulties or dementia who find it difficult to cope with changes in routine at the best of times.

If you know someone who falls into this category take a look at a series of short films created by Alex Kelly, Managing Director of Speaking Space Ltd in Romsey.  Speaking Space specialises in total communication systems for people with learning disabilities, it is an Autism Society centre of excellence and runs a highly successful Day service for adults with learning disabilities.

Alex’s films are short, factual and easy to understand and suitable for a variety of audiences . You can find them on YouTube by searching for Alex Kelly Speaking Space.or via this link


Something inspirational

If you want to be inspired and you have half an hour to spare, watch this video from a church in America with a progressive attitude.


Online Safety

A message from Jayne Tarry our Parish Support Adviser & Pastoral Secretary:

'Many of you may notice an increase in fraudulent emails, calls, etc during this time.  Many fraudsters will rely on our distraction and worry to take advantage.  Can I take this opportunity to remind you all to be vigilant.'

For further information please click on the following link:
Beware of Scams

Scams are criminal tricks which are designed to deceive people in order to gain access to their money, possessions or personal details.  Scammers are taking advantage of people’s fear and isolation as a result of Coronavirus – don’t be caught out!

A scammer may try to approach you on your doorstep, by post, over the phone or online. They’ll often pretend to be someone they’re not, or make misleading offers of services or investments.

Remember: Never give bank details or money up front; do not click on links or open attachments in suspicious emails; don’t be rushed into making a decision and if it’s an unbelievably good deal, it is likely to be a scam.

Coronavirus; How to help safely.

The single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.

You should only leave the house for one of four reasons, and one of these is to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. Even when you are doing this, you need to do so safely. You should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are 2 metres (6 feet) apart from anyone outside of your household.

The guidance outlined in the following link from the website tells you how you can help and importantly, how to do this safely.

Andover Mind, providing services across Hampshire.

Even though the doors are closed, Andover Mind are still open with friendly and supportive staff providing support, advice and information.  If you have any concerns, please follow the links below for further informatin and how to contact them.



Call Companions Service

We have received an email from the Parish Administrator regarding Re-engage’s free Call Companions service.

'You may have heard of Re-engage (formerly Contact the Elderly) for it’s monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties, where volunteers of all ages use their own cars to collect older guests, and meet in volunteer hosts homes, for tea, cake and companionship. The groups are small and friendly and most people are part of the same group for many years.

As our tea parties are suspended due to Coronavirus, we have developed and launched Call Companions  - telephone befriending scheme.

The scheme will become part of the services we offer – it is not just for lock down.  A volunteer call companion will call the same older person between two and four times a month at a mutually agreed time for an informal chat. Calls will last for around 30 minutes. Many people say that it is so nice to have the chance to chat to more than one or two people in a week, to help break up the days. This is true in normal times, and really exacerbated at the moment

The calls are about friendship and friendliness not about ‘care and support’ etc. the volunteers love it because they have someone to chat to about last night’s TV etc. It really is a fun chat about anything and everything.

Our volunteers all receive training, which includes safeguarding, signposting to other services, and how to engage in difficult conversations. They are supported by call coordinators who monitor the success of the partnership for both the older person and volunteer. If an older person takes part and subsequently decides it is not for them, there is an easy way for them to leave.

Referrals – case by case but usually for those:

  • Age 75 or older 
  • Living alone or in sheltered housing, often with limited contact with family or friends 
  • Must be able to hear well enough to engage in a telephone conversation

 We do ask the older person for any interests or hobbies, to help spark conversations for those first few chats when they are getting to know each other.

We don’t know when lock down will end for older people so we are urging people to enrol for Call Companions even if they then move into other activities. It keeps them in touch with the organisation in a good way, so that as and when things change we can offer them the change to re-engage in different ways too.

You can make referrals online or by calling our freephone 0800 716543.  We can help go through the application form with someone over the phone if they are calling themselves.'


Winchester Basics Bank

You will be aware that some people are going to be in acute financial difficulties as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.  This will result in a huge need for food banks.  At the same time, donations are at risk of reducing because people shopping online have no obvious way to donate as they do in store, and in some stores people have even been stealing from the Food Bank donation trolley.

Please take a look at the attached page and consider donating to our local Basics Bank to help those people who are in need of help and support during this uncertain time.  Thank you.

Trinity Winchester

Trinity are appealing for money as opposed to goods or voluntary support at this difficult time.  The homeless are still in need of food, washing and laundry facilities and therefore Trinity requires donations of money instead at this time.  If you would like to support them and would like to donate so they can keep the doors open for as long as possible to those who are homeless and most in need, please visit the Trinity Winchester website.

Read the latest Newsletter from Trinity Winchester here:

Otterbourne Village Summer Fete

It is with regret that the organising team of the Otterbourne Summer Fete have had to make the difficult decision to cancel this year's event. This means that the fete will not now take place on Sunday 28th June 2020.

 This decision has been made taking account of the current lockdown situation and the difficulty in predicting when things might return to normal. We have also taken into account the fact that many of the volunteers who help us to run this event are in the vulnerable age group or are in the group who have to be shielded for 12 weeks so we cannot put them at any risk by asking for their help this year. Planning for an event such as this has to take place several months ahead of the actual event, hence the need to decide now before any more time has been spent on planning.

We appreciate that this may come as a disappointment to those who look forward to and enjoy supporting this event. We too are very disappointed that we have had to make this decision as the fete has always been a very popular event, drawing together the village community and raising much needed funds for our village church.

However, disappointed as we are, there are other events on the horizon to which we can look forward.  We are hoping to hold a Flower Festival during 18th-20th September and we're are planning our Christmas Fair and Quiz Night for Saturday 28th November 2020. More news of these events will follow nearer the time.

 In the meantime, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the members of the organising team for the hard work they have already put into this year's fete, to thank all the volunteers who help us to run our events and to thank all the people who come along to our events and who support us in such a generous way. Your support is much appreciated by us all.

Take care, stay well, and we will look forward to seeing the Otterbourne Community meeting up again very soon.

St. Matthew's Social and Fund-Raising Team.

 P.S. An important Message from St. Matthew’s Churchwardens

Our village church is totally self-funded. It does not receive any grants from the Government or the Church of England. All the funds it receives come from the parishioners and the fund-raising events which we run. As a result of the current closure of the building and the cancellation of our major fund-raising event, our village church is desperately in need of some funds.

If, in lieu of spending at the fete, you would like to help by making a one-off donation, this would be much appreciated. This can be done by on-line banking by contacting our Treasurer using

Thank you all for your continued support for St. Matthew’s Church.

Your St. Matthew's Churchwardens


Local Suppliers who will deliver

There are local suppliers, restaurants, etc. who are happy to deliver fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and many other items to our area.  For more information please visit http:/