Port Sunlight Songs of Praise


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Port Sunlight

Claire McCollum is in Port Sunlight to hear how Christian entrepreneur William Hesketh Lever built this idyllic village to house his soap factory workers.


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They say that cleanliness is next to godliness.

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Well, I'm here in Port Sunlight on the Wirral to discover

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how this simple bar of soap led to the development

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of this idyllic Edwardian village.

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Welcome to Songs Of Praise.

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On today's programme,

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I find out how the unconventional industrialist William Lever

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was motivated by his faith to improve the lives of his employees.

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We are told that Mr Lever read his Bible every day.

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Not just for spiritual guidance,

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but for practical business guidance as well.

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We have hymns from the church at the centre of Port Sunlight,

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built by William Lever.

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The Reverend Kate Bottley discovers how 200 umbrellas in Liverpool

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are helping children with ADHD.

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I pray, please help me, God, just understand what ADHD is.

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Please help me, God, just help me calm down.

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And there's a moving performance of Tears In Heaven from Beau Dermott,

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the young girl from Widnes with the big voice.

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In 1888, when industrialist William Hesketh Lever

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was looking for somewhere to build the new Lever Brothers soap factory,

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he chose Port Sunlight.

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At the time it was an area of cheap, marshy land

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on the banks of the River Mersey.

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But Lever had a grand plan.

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He built this beautiful village

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and named it after his famous Sunlight soap.

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At its heart is Christ Church, where Lever wanted Christians

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of all backgrounds to be made welcome.

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It continues to be a focal point for the community

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and it's where the congregation have gathered for our opening hymn.

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Born in Bolton in 1851,

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William Hesketh Lever grew up during the height of the British Empire

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and quickly developed an entrepreneurial spirit

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with his own ideas about everything.

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And faith was no exception.

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Lever was a Christian, but he wanted all denominations to be able

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to worship together, so he built the magnificent Christ Church in 1904.

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Well, as they say at home, Chris,

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this is some church for a village church.

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There's no expense spared here.

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You're quite right, Claire. That was the mark of the man.

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When he did something, he did it to the best of his ability.

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And in the church here we have Italian marble floors,

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we have English oak pews and we have a Henry Willis organ,

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-the best that money could buy at the time.

-And tell me about his faith.

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It was very important to him, wasn't it?

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It was very important to him, and it started when he was a child.

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He grew up in what we would call today a God-fearing family.

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They all went to church on Sunday,

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and they all read their Bible together.

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And for the rest of his business life, we are told

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that Mr Lever read his Bible everyday.

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Not just for spiritual guidance,

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but for practical business guidance as well.

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To Lever, his faith and his business were one and the same thing.

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He wouldn't do anything in his business that he didn't think

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his faith would approve of.

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And in fact the two great commandments of the New Testament

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are to love God and to love your neighbour as yourself,

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and Lever, to me, illustrated both of those commandments in spades.

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Lever, later to become Lord Leverhulme,

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made his money from manufacturing soap.

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His new recipe and clever packaging saw his brands become

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household names that sold around the world.

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But at a time

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when a lot of Victorian and Edwardian industrialists

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were out to make money for themselves,

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Lever wanted to recognise

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the role his workforce played in his prosperity.

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So he built the village where employees could live and work.

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So tell me about Lever's vision for this village, Judith.

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His vision was to create a beautiful and comfortable environment

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for his workforce.

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Lots of fresh air and open space, beautiful houses.

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He had a great interest in architecture,

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so there are no two blocks alike. Every block is different.

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Every house had its own toilet, so there was no sharing.

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But also each house had a plumbed-in bath with hot water,

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which was almost unheard of for workers' accommodation at that time.

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He built a school for all the children.

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He was a great believer in education.

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He provided a hospital,

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a cottage hospital, for all their health care needs.

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He provided a swimming pool, an open-air swimming pool.

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A gymnasium, lots of sports facilities.

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Every opportunity for physical exercise.

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He was a firm believer in having plenty to do,

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so outside of work time they were not to just be idle.

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They should use their time gainfully and productively, even out of work.

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You said he was a real fan of the outdoors.

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-He took that to extremes sometimes, didn't he?

-He did, yes.

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He was a real fresh air fiend,

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even to the extent that he slept outside in the fresh air

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every night, he and his wife, his poor wife.

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Their bed was on the roof of their house, under a cover

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but open to the fresh air, so when it rained, the rain did come in.

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-Goodness.

-And they slept like that every night.

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Lever went on to create an early welfare state for his employees,

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providing them with paid holidays, sick pay

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and pensions for when they retired.

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So he termed it prosperity sharing.

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That was the term that he used.

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So rather than just give them a bonus in their pay packet,

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he shared his wealth by providing this environment for them

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to live in, this community, this whole way of life.

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# Brother, sister Let me serve you... #

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Now, compassion for children is something all Christians

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strive for, whatever challenges they face.

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This year is the tenth anniversary of the ADHD Foundation, which

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supports children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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The Reverend Kate Bottley has been to Liverpool to find out more.

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Well, no British summer is complete without one of these,

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but recently they've been put to a more artistic use.

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This beautiful art installation in Liverpool aims to raise awareness

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of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,

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which affects the behaviour of over half a million children.

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Where did the inspiration come from?

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The idea came from a group of the children that we work with,

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all of whom have ADHD and autism

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and lots of other learning difficulties as well.

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And they started asking questions,

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what does ADHD and what ASD mean?

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And we explain to them that these are umbrella terms

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for a range of challenges or needs.

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And they came up with this idea of the Umbrella Project,

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because they thought umbrellas also symbolise protection

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from the rain and the sun, and the Umbrella Project was born.

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At the launch,

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children were asked to write their superpowers on the umbrellas.

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A lot of the children were coming up with all kinds of amazing things

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that they can do, that they're so gifted at, that might not be

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the kind of things that always pass exams.

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So many of them talked about kindness and being a good friend.

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Keeley is one of the children who's designed an umbrella

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and she explained to me how ADHD affects her behaviour.

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It's very hard for me to control, actually,

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because I sometimes feel like I want to punch my mum

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or I want to swear, and it's just like an angel or the devil saying

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"You should do this," and then the angel's like, "Don't do it."

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And when you're that big ball of anger in the middle of one of those

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sort of moments, what do you do?

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I just go upstairs

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and just start to calm down and go, Keeley, that's wrong.

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Keeley, just don't do that. Keeley, it's bad.

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-Does God help you with your ADHD?

-Yeah.

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I pray, help me understand what ADHD is.

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Please help me, God. Help me calm down.

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Understanding what Keeley is going through can be a real challenge,

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even for her mum.

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It's very hard, because obviously she's going through something

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that I don't understand.

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She doesn't sleep.

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And in those moments where she's had a massive meltdown

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and she's lashing out and trying to hit you and stuff,

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-what do you do, and what are you thinking?

-I cuddle her, hug her,

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and tell her to calm down, it's going to be OK.

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And then Keeley will slowly come out of that anger and she'll cry

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to me, saying she doesn't know what's happening to her.

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She doesn't know why she's being naughty.

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She doesn't know why the things are happening to her.

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She feels that people don't forgive her, and I always remind her

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that we do forgive her, and that God loves her, and that we love her.

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-All the family love her.

-Yeah.

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I've got this picture of you, sort of, Keeley lashing out

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and you holding her and putting your arms around her,

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and it strikes me that perhaps as you're holding on to her

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it's like God's holding on to both of you

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and putting his arms around both of you, really.

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That's how it feels sometimes, yeah. Definitely.

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For Keeley, being involved in the Umbrella Project is something

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she's really proud of.

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-What colour's your one?

-Mine's yellow.

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-And you wrote all over it?

-Yeah.

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And what did you put for your superpower?

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I put smiling, being kind

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and also dancing and singing.

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Well, smiling and being kind are fantastic superpowers, aren't they?

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-Yeah.

-Brilliant.

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Well, I've been told that this is the place to have a selfie.

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-Can I have my picture taken with you?

-Of course.

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Oh, great. I love it. A quick selfie. Are you ready?

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We look great! Thank you.

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On Songs Of Praise, we like to feature a wide range

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of Christian music, and the Gospel Choir of the Year

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has become an important date in our calendar.

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So if you sing gospel, or you know a choir that does,

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now is the time to enter the competition.

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So if you think you've got what it takes to lift the trophy,

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go to the website at...

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..to find out how to enter

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and the all-important terms and conditions.

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No time to lose!

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Last year's winners were Manchester Inspirational Voices

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and here they are now with their winning performance.

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# Swing low, sweet chariot

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# Coming for to carry me home... #

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Hey!

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# Swing low, sweet chariot

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# Coming for to carry me home

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# Swing low, sweet chariot

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# Coming for to carry me home

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-# Swing low

-Swing low, sweet chariot

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# Coming for to carry me home

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# Swing low, sweet chariot

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# Coming for to carry me home

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# I looked over Jordan What did I see?

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# Coming for to carry me home

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# A band of angels coming after me

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# Coming for to carry me home

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# If you get there before I do

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# Coming for to carry me home

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# Tell all my friends I'm coming back today

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-# Coming for to carry me home

-Swing low

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# Swing low, sweet chariot

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# Coming for to carry me home

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# Swing low, sweet chariot

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# Coming for to carry me home

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# If you get there before I do

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# Coming for to carry me home

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# Tell all my friends I'm coming back, coming back today

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# Coming for to carry me home... # CHEERING

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-# Swing low

-Swing low, sweet chariot

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# Coming for to carry me home

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# Swing low, sweet chariot

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# Coming for to carry me home

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# Swing low, sweet chariot

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# Coming for to carry me home

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# Swing low, sweet chariot

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# Coming for to carry me

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# Coming for to carry me

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# Coming for to carry me home. #

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CHEERING

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Here in Port Sunlight, the front gardens are as immaculate as they

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were back in the early 1900s when Lord Leverhulme first designed them.

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Behind the houses he provided allotments.

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It was part of his practical approach to Christianity,

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encouraging his workers to grow their own food.

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Just one of the original plots remains,

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and it's lovingly tended by today's residents.

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Hi there.

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-I'm looking for Diane and Liz. I think I've found you.

-Hi.

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Great to see you, ladies. Busy at work. What are we up to over here?

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-Well, I'm just picking some broad beans.

-Do you want a hand?

-Yes, yes.

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Certainly. There's plenty in there if you'd like to help.

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-Any special way?

-Just twist them off and they should just come away.

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And what do you think of Lord Leverhulme's idea,

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that he wanted to help his workers and give them such a wonderful life?

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Leverhulme's ideas really are still as important today

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perhaps as they were 100 years ago.

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He was a man of faith,

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and to be a gardener you have to have that faith, really,

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when you're planting seeds and nurture the crops,

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-because without that then they wouldn't grow.

-Hi, Liz.

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-What are we picking here?

-We're picking spinach today.

-There we are.

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What do you love most about producing your own fruit and veg?

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I like the fact that there are no chemicals on it.

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I don't use chemicals,

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and it's nice to know that you're not eating poisons.

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-It's how nature intended it to be.

-Is it exciting?

-It is, yes.

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I still get a thrill.

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I've grown food for 40-odd years, and I still get a thrill when

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it's on the plate and you take a bite, and it tastes like a real one.

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-Make sense.

-I've never got over that.

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And it's as close as you can get to nature, really, isn't it?

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It is, yes. And they do say

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that you're closer to God in a garden than anywhere else

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on Earth. And I think it's true.

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So it's a great place to be?

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-It is, it's lovely. Does me the world of good.

-Brilliant.

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This is my happy place.

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-Wonderful.

-My little corner of heaven.

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Cliff Jones' family were one of the first to move to the village

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in 1888, and it's a big part of his life.

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-Is this where the award-winning gardener is?

-It is, yes.

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Cliff, great to see you. Fabulous tomatoes here.

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-Yes.

-And your family have a great connection to the village,

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-don't they?

-Yes.

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I worked for Lever's for 45 years, and my wife's grandmother,

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she was the first person ever to be

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employed by Lord Lever in 1886.

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What is it you love about being in the garden

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and producing all this beautiful stuff?

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The fresh air, beautiful fresh food for our families

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and other people we give to, pensioners etc.

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My wife gives it to people in the church.

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And I hear you've been singing in the church as well.

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-Yes, we've been singing in the church.

-And tell me,

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-do you have a favourite hymn?

-Yes.

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Be Still For The Presence Of The Lord.

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Every now and then, a new angelic voice bursts onto the scene

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and takes us by surprise.

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And that's exactly what 13-year-old local girl Beau did

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when she got to the final of Britain's Got Talent.

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# Bring me down

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# Oh... #

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CHEERING

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She's the little girl from Widnes who won the audience's heart.

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Now her voice has been insured for £1 million

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and she has her own record deal,

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as the Reverend Kate Bottley has been finding out.

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It's hard to imagine how a family stays grounded

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when something like this happens, so I can't wait to meet her.

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Hi! I'm Kate, lovely to meet you.

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-I'm Karen.

-Hi, Beau. Hi, Karen.

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Hello! Hello, you!

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-Would you like to come through?

-Yes, let's go through.

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Hello, Angel.

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-Is this your room?

-Yeah.

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-It's so pink! So this is where it all began?

-Yeah.

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I used to grab my water bottle and do a little song in the mirror.

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-Tippy toes on the bed.

-And what would you sing?

-I'd just sing...

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Well, my very first song was The Sound Of Music,

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and then I'd probably sing something from Snow White.

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-Do you like a Disney tune?

-I love Disney tunes.

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The past 12 months have been truly extraordinary for Beau,

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but at the same time

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her family have had to cope with really difficult news.

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It's not all been easy, though, and fantastic, has it?

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-Because you've had a tough time of it as well.

-Yeah.

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I got diagnosed with cancer

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the day before Beau did her live semifinal at BGT.

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We had to keep it quiet, because we didn't want anybody to know.

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We didn't want a sob story. It was all about Beau.

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And that's the way it was always going to stay.

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So a couple of weeks after, we decided to tell her

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the situation, and she's been fantastic.

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She keeps me going, to be fair.

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And I understand you're doing something practical

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to help with all of this.

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Well, I'm doing a charity concert on 12 October

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at the Liverpool Philharmonic

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and it's in aid of Cancer Research UK.

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And it's to help people like my dad and the families

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who are helping their family member or loved one go through this.

0:26:300:26:34

I love to help people, so I feel like my voice,

0:26:340:26:37

it's a God-given thing, so...

0:26:370:26:40

It's almost like God's given you this gift

0:26:400:26:42

-and you've got a responsibility?

-Yeah.

0:26:420:26:44

I've got a responsibility to make people happy

0:26:440:26:47

and make people feel like they're just loved.

0:26:470:26:52

It must make you question, though, when your family's going through

0:26:520:26:55

such extremes of emotion, such wonderful things happening for Beau

0:26:550:26:59

and such a tough time for you.

0:26:590:27:01

It must make you question where God is in all of that.

0:27:010:27:03

Things come along and you've got to deal with them,

0:27:030:27:05

and they do make you stronger at the end of the day.

0:27:050:27:08

And we have dealt with it,

0:27:080:27:09

and we will.

0:27:090:27:11

And that's what we do, isn't it?

0:27:110:27:13

Yeah, you've got to have faith, haven't you? You know what I mean?

0:27:130:27:16

And that's what we've got.

0:27:160:27:18

For my dad to be as brave as he's been is really something

0:27:180:27:21

that I look up to.

0:27:210:27:22

Tell us what you're going to sing for us.

0:27:220:27:25

I'm going to be singing Tears In Heaven by Eric Clapton.

0:27:250:27:28

I chose this song because of the story behind it

0:27:280:27:32

and how amazing it was to just write a song at this difficult time,

0:27:320:27:37

because his son had just died,

0:27:370:27:39

and he decided to make music his way of giving something back

0:27:390:27:45

and a way of letting his son know that he's still with him.

0:27:450:27:49

# Would you know my name

0:27:510:27:54

# If I saw you in heaven?

0:27:570:28:01

# Would it be the same

0:28:040:28:07

# If I saw you in heaven?

0:28:110:28:14

# I must be strong

0:28:180:28:21

# And carry on

0:28:240:28:27

# Cos I know I don't belong

0:28:280:28:34

# Here in heaven

0:28:350:28:37

# Would you hold my hand

0:28:500:28:55

# If I saw you in heaven?

0:28:570:29:00

# Would you help me stand

0:29:040:29:08

# If I saw you in heaven?

0:29:110:29:14

# I'll find my way

0:29:180:29:22

# Through night and day

0:29:240:29:28

# Cos I know I just can't stay

0:29:280:29:34

# Here in heaven

0:29:350:29:37

# Time can bring you down

0:29:410:29:44

# Time can bend your knees

0:29:440:29:48

# Time can break your heart

0:29:540:29:57

# Have you begging please

0:29:570:30:02

# Begging please

0:30:020:30:07

# Beyond the door

0:30:350:30:38

# There's peace I'm sure

0:30:410:30:44

# And I know there'll be no more

0:30:450:30:51

# Tears in heaven. #

0:30:530:30:57

Just wonderful to hear Beau's angelic voice there again,

0:31:130:31:16

and I am sure we'll be hearing a lot more from her.

0:31:160:31:19

Well, that's just about it for today.

0:31:190:31:22

Next week, Josie d'Arby joins thousands of Christians

0:31:220:31:25

celebrating the summer at the New Wine gathering in Somerset.

0:31:250:31:28

And we've a special 50th anniversary performance of the Beatles song...

0:31:280:31:32

# All you need is love... #

0:31:320:31:35

But for now, from everyone here in Port Sunlight, we'll leave you

0:31:350:31:39

with a hymn that puts into words the indescribable nature of God.

0:31:390:31:43

Thanks for watching.

0:31:430:31:44

Claire McCollum is in Port Sunlight to hear how Christian entrepreneur William Hesketh Lever built this idyllic village to house his soap factory workers. The Reverend Kate Bottley meets the remarkable 13-year-old who sings like an angel.