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MAST Newsletter Summer 2017

Michael Fentem

Much of this page will be given over to Michael as we look back together over his career in MAST and honour him for all his hard work, commitment and dedication over the years.

We begin with an editorial perspective based on a recent interview cum chat that I was privileged to have with Michael several weeks before his final assembly.

As this is my final newsletter as editor I’ve also taken a bit of a liberty with much of the copy provided by Michael in that I’ve changed it from his usual third person voice to first person. It seemed appropriate to “hear” Michael himself, more personally, in this his “exit newsletter”.


Michael and Mast: Past, Present and Future

To a great extent Michael and Mast have been synonymous since Mast was formed over fifteen years ago. Before that Michael had been visiting 23 local schools. In order to support him, a group of local ministers decided to form the trust. It was in Michael’s lounge on January 20th 2012 that MAST was officially launched with a constitution and a committee of five trustees, representing five local churches.

With fond memory and gratitude Michael recalls receiving “lots of support” in those early days, especially from senior staff in a number of schools. After three years he was joined by James and Christine Coates. In recent years Michael’s visits have risen to 76 schools per term. These range from Peak Forest in the North to Milford in the South and from Woodthorpe in the East to Kirk Ireton in the West. The age range of students visited has an equally impressive spread: from Nursery to Year 11. Some schools have less than a dozen youngsters, some have over 1,000.

Among the significant moments in MAST’s growth Michael lists the additions of James & Christine plus Ray & Beryl. These welcome additions enlarged the ministry and enabled them to pray together as a team. Another great encouragement for Michael over the years has been several teachers becoming Christians, including two heads.

When asked if any particular assemblies are especially memorable out of the hundreds delivered by Michael, two sprang to his mind. Although most of his assemblies are based on the life of Jesus these two were a little different. One is the Noah’s Ark story, told with puppets. The other is the story of The Apostle Paul in prison. In this particular assembly a volunteer pupil is handcuffed and placed in a “prison” that then falls apart to reveal a (usually) grinning child.

Quite appropriately, Michael’s final assembly was at Wirksworth Junior School where he also gave his very first assembly 22 years ago. He feels confident that with the current team being bolstered by new members Michael Tinker and Emily Spencer, the future development and ministry of MAST is in good hands.

For the immediate future Michael will heed the sound advice that he has been given and take a complete break for at least three months. During this period he intends spending more time with his family, including taking his grandson Leo out regularly, and also waiting to see what new doors the Lord may open for him in the future.

MAST Thanksgiving Service

MAST Thanksgiving Service

On Sunday evening 25th June a full church gathered at Steep Turnpike Evangelical Church to celebrate the work of MAST and the massive contribution made by Michael. Former chairman Martyn Pyne and Pastor Alan Smith praised Michael for his work and dedication. Pastor Steve Speight from Lichfield Church also spoke about the formation of MAST and the work of Michael.

On behalf of MAST, Steve presented a Bible to Michael then Alan gave Michael a gift from the trustees towards a holiday in Scotland for Mandy and himself. (pictured above)

The service was organized by Jeremy Beckett and included Pastor Matthew Quinn giving the address.

Steep Turnpike Evangelical Church

Here I am...


...… at home surrounded by the host of cards and presents.

Special events

Many schools organized special events for me at my last assembly with them.

At the last count I have received 74 hand-made cards from schools, with pictures and messages from many individual children, plus 29 cards from staff and friends.

Michael's 'Thank you' gifts etc
Michael's 'Thank you' gifts etc
Michael's 'Thank you' gifts etc
Michael's 'Thank you' gifts etc
Michael's 'Thank you' gifts etc

And here are a few “Snippets” from others…

Karl Rogers (Head of Highfields Secondary Lower Site): ‘’He is a Highfields institution and we wish him every success in the new chapter in his life.”

A pupil at Tibshelf Juniors: “I love it when we have to shout “Bible”. I don’t believe in God or Jesus, but I like the stories and they help me.”

And finally a pupil at Old Hall Juniors: “The thought of you leaving broke our hearts, but the amazing memories brought them back together again.”

The Final Assembly

Wirksworth Juniot School logo

My final assembly was at Wirksworth Junior School, where it all started 22 years ago with my first assembly after the invitation of the then Head, Bill Hawley, who later became the first MAST chairman.

Wirksworth Juniot School

At this final assembly trustees and friends of MAST joined all the school to enjoy an amusing assembly.

Afterwards the school provided refreshments for everyone. I’m pictured here having coffee with staff at the school.

This was a fitting finale to a remarkable career - The departure of a legend. Well done Michael and thank you from everyone.

Wirksworth Juniot School

The Future?

Here I am with Leo my grandson, and it will be lots of treats and chocolate for the young man. I’ll also have the opportunity to visit my son Thomas more regularly in Folkestone.
Michael and his Grandson

Other News


Once again MAST has been delighted to give away 850 books to Year 6 pupils. They contain the bible stories which all three teams have been telling over the year, plus quizzes, pictures, jokes and items to help the children enjoy learning God’s Word. As in previous years, these books have been paid for by the Derek Fentem Schools’ Trust.


Litton School, often visited by Ray, Beryl and Michael, has achieved an outstanding in its recent statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools for the wonderful work in religious studies and assemblies. They say they are proud and we also are proud to be a part of this school.

Financial donations to MAST

These can be sent to the treasurer, Mr C Cookman, 91 Wellington Street, Matlock. DE4 3GW. Telephone 01629 582851. Email chriscookman[at] Cheques payable to 'MAST'.

Further Information

For further information about the work of MAST please contact the chairman, Jeremy Beckett 01629 822659 or the treasurer, Chris Cookman 01629 582851

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