I have received an extremely good welcome and people have been absolutely marvellous. I am settling into my new role and am very happy to be in Garstang. I look forward to seeing how things develop, while carrying on the work of my predecessor.
I was born and brought up in Cleator Moor, near Whitehaven, in West Cumbria. I knew from a very early age that I wished to become a priest, that it was the right thing for me. At the age of sixteen I went to Ireland to begin studies for the priesthood at Mount Melleray Seminary in County Waterford, where I spent two years before moving to St John's College, Waterford City.
I was ordained a priest in 1981 at St Mary's, Cleator, the church I attended as a child. My first parish was St Columba's, Walney Island, Barrow-in-Furness, and I subsequently served at St Joseph's, Preston before becoming Bishop John Brewer's Secretary. My roles have included Chaplain at HM Prison Preston, HM Prison The Castle Lancaster and HMYOI Lancaster Farms.
In 1995 I was asked by the Bishop to become an army chaplain, a role I carried out for the next eighteen years. I was mainly based in Germany, serving with many regiments and brigades, and went on operational tours to Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland and Iraq, on exercises to Oman, Jordan and Canada, and spent some time in Catterick and Chatham. My job was to be chaplain to the people in those postings and to the people supporting them. It was an enjoyable yet challenging time, one I feel glad to have had the opportunity to carry out.
I finally retired from the army three years ago, returning to the Diocese of Lancaster and taking responsibility for the parishes of Maryport, Silloth and Wigton.
In March 2016 Bishop Michael Campbell asked me to move to Garstang and take responsibility for St Mary and St Michael’s parish. I am very happy here: Garstang has always been considered to be a lovely parish. The usual settling-in process takes more than a year - it takes a while to get to know the people and to know your way around the locality and the layout of the parish.
St Mary and St Michael's is a fantastic church and we are about to have major work carried out which should take approximately six months, with the whole building to be re-roofed.
There is a very lively congregation, a children's liturgy group every week, no fewer than four organists – which is very unusual - and two choirs. Up to 300 people attend masses each week which is very good in this day and age.
I see another important part of my role as supporting our primary school, encouraging the staff and children. There is a very, very close relationship between the school and parish.
In my spare time I enjoy a bit of light reading, watching television and walking in the fells – in the army I had to do a fair amount of walking as part of my work but now it is lovely to walk in the hills for pleasure.