Christmas Newsletter for 2005

from Colin and Elizabeth Hicks

Each year we send out a Christmas Newsletter to family and friends.
The text below is a slightly edited version of our Christmas 2005 Newsletter.

"We have seen His star in the East" Matthew 2:2 (KJV)

Joshua and Colin
Joshua and Colin in June 2005
Colin and Elizabeth

Colin will be retiring from the Civil Service on his 60th birthday this coming May. His final post as Director General of the British National Space Centre (BNSC) has been full of highs as well as some lows. This year's undoubted high was the descent of the Huygens probe into the atmosphere of Titan (a moon of Saturn) on 14 January 2005. That led to Colin's first (and perhaps only) appearance on the Today programme which is BBC Radio 4's morning news flagship. (Anyone who understands the off-air jokes about tangerine skies betrays their age!)

Colin's work still takes him all over the world. This year destinations have included Florida, Russia and South Africa, as well as the more routine Berlin, Bonn, Brussels, Geneva, Paris and Luxembourg.

In February Elizabeth was able to accompany Colin to Brussels. While he toiled. she tramped the cold streets in the day time looking for Art Nouveau architecture and found astonishing exteriors and interiors. Two evenings were spent at official dinners meeting Colin's international colleagues.

Elizabeth also made it to Geneva with Colin in May, when there was a heat wave in which to enjoy the wonderful gardens and lakeside vistas as well as catching up on film going. Geneva being the headquarters of so many international organisations has lots of cinemas showing English films!

In August we rented a house near Cognac for two weeks. As in recent years, it was a real family holiday with a dozen or so in the house - including all our children and grandchildren, plus James' parents (Robert and Gwyneth Carpenter) and Elizabeth's sister (Heather). We all managed to put up with each other for the whole fortnight! While there we were visited by Ruth and Sony (Elizabeth's niece and her husband) who made the trip from Toulouse to see us.

Elizabeth joins Colin in retirement at the end of July 2006. The second half of next year will require both of us to adjust to a new pattern of life.

Click to see Colin and Elizabeth's eChristmas Card to You!

Richard, Rachel and Jasper

Richard and Rachel are still renovating the French house they bought a few years ago. It now has its new roof and should be ready for occupation after Richard and Colin have made a long working visit during July 2006.

Rachel is still working part-time at a local sixth form college helping students with language and other learning difficulties. She recently completed a demanding course leading to a specialist teaching diploma from the British Dyslexia Association.

Jasper was 8 in November and is reading fluently. He is a enjoys roller skating and skateboarding as well as spiders and electric trains. The picture shows him wearing a Velcro suit while climbing on an adventure inflatable at our Church's Holiday Club.

Colin has enjoyed taking Jasper to the cinema to watch some of the big films like the latest Star Wars. In March Colin took Jasper and Rachel to the North v South Tsunami charity rugby match at Twickenham. This was Jasper's first time at a big sporting occasion - Colin hopes to have to escort him to many future matches!

Sophie, an 18-month old Yellow Labrador, is now an established member of Richard and Rachel's family and our first grand-dog.

Jasper in July 2005
Jasper in July 2005
Miriam and Elizabeth
Miriam and Elizabeth
in June 2005

Jasper, Joshua and Miriam in June 2005
Jasper, Joshua and Miriam
in June 2005
Joanna, James, Miriam, and Joshua

This year, James has a sabbatical year from his lecturing at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). He is spending it with the family in Freiburg (Germany) having got a part time job in the university there.

Before they left, Joanna passed her Goethe Institut exam earning a German language Diploma. She also did a TEFL course while preparing to move to Germany. She now has various teaching jobs in Freiburg and is doing further high level German courses.

Miriam goes to a lovely kindergarten every day. She is picking up German very readily and can switch between the two languages. She will be 5 in January 2006 and misses her first year of English school. She is a stereotypical little girl - favourite colour pink - who bosses her baby brother around.

Joshua is a bouncy and cheerful little boy. He sat and didn't move until he was 14 months old and then learnt to bottom shuffle, crawl and walk in a few weeks. He goes to a delightful nursery to fit in with Joanna's work He doesn't speak much as yet except for sometimes saying 'Ja'!

Elizabeth went to Freiburg for the autumn half-term (Colin had too much work on!) and thoroughly enjoyed the city and seeing everyone in their new environment.

Click to see Colin's BNSC eChristmas Card

Eric Payne at 90
Eric Payne at 90
Other Family News

Elizabeth's Dad died during July at the age of 91, after a period of steady decline. His whole family were called to his bedside a few days before he died when it became clear that he did not have much longer to live. Heather managed to get back from Delhi in less than 18 hours. The funeral was very moving with representatives attending from many of the different places where Dad had been involved. It was good to spend time with his brother Will from Trinidad and his nephew Neil from New York who both came for the funeral.

Elizabeth's sister, Heather, is now working in Delhi with the Christian Medical Association of India (CMAI). She has been making a new home there and welcoming visitors too. She is now involved with a big Tearfund project on HIV/Aids education.

The Church Family

The new buildings at Church have been open for a year now and are much admired by visitors. During the year we have been buying furniture and equipment to make the entrance foyer more inviting. It is open, with a staffed reception desk, every day for people to come and go. While Elizabeth has helped select the furnishings, Colin has developed displays to go on a screen visible from the street outside.

Colin still runs a number of websites including the Church and London Baptist Association websites each of which now have about two hundred visitors each day.

e-mail and website addresses

e-mail to Colin:
e-mail to Elizabeth:

Colinís web sites:
Colinís office e-mail (until 1 May 2006):
Colinís office web site (until 1 May 2006):

e-mail to Richard and Rachel:

e-mail to James:
e-mail to Joanna at home: