Lloyd is inspecting our library. It’s his first day here and first day out from prison after 23 months ‘in’ and I can’t help but feel pleased that he is showing such interest in our book collection…

“So what do you think?” I try to ask in an everyday sort of way (not at all sure I succeeded).

“Chris Man, dere is no Bible, why not?”

Ohhh I wasn’t expecting that… I stumbled, blaming myself; citing the Christmas time when as a three-year-old, I showed my family a barn (built with my own wooden bricks) containing a small piece of cheese… even at this early age demonstrating my religious confusion by presenting to one and all…’the baby cheeses!’

Explaining my own lacking wasn’t helping, Lloyd was just laughing at me, very generously saying “Bless you, Chris man.”

I have often admired the strong sense of faith of others, able to reach out for support, finding help and strength in the midst of difficult times. The chaplain at HMP Channings Wood, the Rev Nick Martin, has an enormous fan club. Men of all faiths, or no faith, hold him in such high regard, and I am sure I am not the only one who will miss his presence as he enters retirement.

Our run up to Christmas this year has been lead by Harry’s (day release prisoner) single-minded determination to create a nativity scene, to be sent home to his fiancée.

Harry (who even I can see) entirely understands the nativity story, painstakingly carved figures and animals, built a barn, a manger and finally a baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling. All done with gentle encouragement from our woodwork trainer and LandWorks stalwart, Will.

The scene is nothing short of beautiful, a great tribute to Harry and his strong sense of his faith.

LandWorks trainee Harry's Nativity scene

LandWorks trainee Harry’s Nativity scene

Trying to keep up with all the festivities, I have composed a LandWorks version of the Twelve Days (statistics) of Christmas. All together now…

12 Men in employment
11 Happy probation officers
10 Hundred supporters (actually 1026, we beat the target)
9 Men engaging weekly
8 Trainees building (our new building)
7 New wood products selling fast
6 Volunteers volunteering
5 Prison recalls (but no new offences!)
4 Art students doing art
3 Annual Christmas lunches (since 2013)
2 Prison lockdowns
1 Most beautiful Cob wall emerging, with a very nearly finished green roof (next year).

Merry Christmas