Night Shift pioneers invited to Buckingham Palace
Two Hereford Baptists were honoured by the Queen earlier this month (May 10) with an invitation to a Buckingham Palace garden party for their services to local revellers and partygoers
Brian and Mair Granthier, of Hill Farm, Dinedor, were prompted 13 years ago to create a safe and peaceful haven for late-night clubbers in Commercial Road.
Members of Hereford Baptist Church, they were given permission to open the front of the church on Saturday nights and early Sunday mornings as a place for clubbers to have a rest, tell their story to people who would listen without judging, or just have a coffee and use the toilet. They have been leading a team who have been doing this ever since.
Brian Granthier explained what prompted them to start Night Shift. He said: 'In a word, it was rubbish! It was the fact that the forecourt on Sunday morning was in a terrible state. People who came into town at night said that we were the black spot on the road, so we decided we needed the light of Jesus to shine out on Saturday night.
'We started on the second Saturday of November 2002. We sat in the foyer with a meal of lasagne and played board games. We didn’t dare go out because a police friend had told us to keep ourselves locked in because, he said, ‘It’s a dangerous mob out there’.
'However over the years we have found a friendly bunch and have made friends with club staff and bouncers. The bouncers come into Night Shift and are amazed to see people they have thrown out for being drunk and disorderly drinking tea and chatting to us.
'Someone, seeing us in our hi-vis tabards, said: "Gosh this must be a rough city, even the church has got bouncers!" '
The team frequently hear people say they are grateful that there are people around who can help when it’s needed.
There have been stories of lives changed and encouragements remembered. Several people have come back and told the team “I don’t know if you realise how much you helped me”.
One couple met through Night Shift and subsequently got married, and the speech at the wedding mentioned how Night Shift had changed their lives.
Mair Granthier said: 'Night Shift has had quite an impact. We now work alongside Street Pastors, and we were put on the radio link and recognised as part of the night-time economy. There have been no real scary moments, and we have never felt threatened. People who come in look out for each other, and if someone says or does something inappropriate the others say ‘We don’t do things like that here’.”
She added, 'Being invited to the Palace garden party is such an honour for Night Shift and for all the people who have given up their Saturday nights over the years – 20 to 30 people in total volunteering over the years, sometimes from other churches as well.