Cross of St Piran 2017: Jean Pidgen
“The market is like a family – just watch out if it’s your birthday, we like to make a fuss!”
Jean and her beloved late husband Michael started a mini-market in 1975 to raise funds for a church hall for St James, Torpoint. Together with another couple, they first began by selling cakes they’d made and flowers and vegetables they’d grown in their gardens. Jean said, “To be honest, we weren’t really sure we’d be able to raise enough money to build a hall, but God seemed to sort that out!” He certainly did, today they still hold a market, every Friday, in the hall they raised funds to build.
Jean, Michael and the community that built up around the market went on to raise funds to repair the church roof, and have helped to meet the incidental financial demands of St James for the next thirty years or so.
Although raising money was why they initially began the market, as it has developed through the years it has taken on its own personality and purpose within the community. Locals love to pick over the stalls, but they also love to meet up with their friends, have a cup of tea, chat or just not be on their own. The market provides a valuable meeting place and as Jean says, “I’m not trained or anything, but I’m a good listener.”
Jean loves her church and couldn’t imagine life without it. She was particularly touched when the church family surprised her with a party on her and Michael’s golden wedding anniversary – “Don’t know how they managed to keep that quiet – I usually know everything that’s going on!” And the church was there for her again when Michael died, helping her with kindness and prayer, as was the market community.
The friendships forged over the years through the church and the market are very precious, not just to Jean but everyone who regularly pitches up either to help or to hang out. As Jean says, “It isn’t just our church people that go, we have all sorts, including Roman Catholics!” This is a market that surely has God’s affectionate approval – with just as much kindness, cups of tea and compassion being exchanged as bargains, cash and fund-raising targets.