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He came, ee-aww, he conqured.

Byline: BMaddison Reporter

THE congregation which gathered inside a Grove Hill church on Palm Sunday in 1995 came away with the feeling someone had made an ass of them.

There they were singing the hymn Ride On, Ride On In Majesty to mark Christ's dramatic entry into Jerusalem, unaware that drama of a different kind was taking place outside the church doors.

The idea, former Sunday school leader Edith Tomlinson recalled back in 2002, was for a donkey to be ridden down the aisle of St Oswald's Parish Church by young Kyle Cummings. But the young lad refused to sit on the donkey until the vicar, sensing a delayed start, picked him up and plonked him on the donkey's back.

A local farmer had loaned the animal for the service and youngsters waving palm branches had obliged as an Evening Gazette photographer, accompanied by a reporter, lined them up for a photograph. But when the cue came for the donkey to walk up a ramp into the church, it refused to budge, turned tail and went back into its horse box.

It made an ass of the congregation, but also of the Evening Gazette which happily published a photograph of the donkey, but missed the dilemma it caused. "It's a good job the reporter hadn't stayed," said Edith.

This is just one of the special memories held by generations of regulars at St Oswald's.

Keith MacPherson also recalled memories which reached back to his teenage years when a youth club, led by Joe and Helen Underwood, was the social life for him and many others.

The club regularly held Saturday-night dances, attracting upwards of 100 young people.

"In those days, young people could either go to the pictures, the Albert Park roller skating rink or a youth club," Keith recalled more than a decade ago.

Keith also recalled the days when the church had a thriving choir of 12 men and 24 boys; an example of the flourishing early years of St Oswald's which you can read more of in tomorrow's Remember When.

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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Aug 12, 2014
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