I was born in October 1959 in Brookmans Park, near Hatfield in Hertfordshire, the eldest of three children. My parents sent me to Sunday School at the age of 4, although not church goers themselves. I left Sunday School aged 11 and lost interest in church in any form. I was a sporty kid: I loved football, hockey, badminton and tennis. Also I enjoy reading, especially space travel and adventure stories (I wanted to be an astronaut for a number of years). I was blessed with academic and sporting ability. I played hockey for my school and Potters Bar Ladies. I wanted to be a PE teacher when I left school.
However, a hockey injury left me with a permanently damaged knee. I was devastated, became anorexic, went to Reading University to study history but changed to ‘economics and international relations’. I became interested in the economics of the developing world so studied further, at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, with the view to travelling overseas and helping poorer economies.
My first job after university was near Ashford, Kent, and that was where I started going to church (mainly because I had met a Christian lad on holiday!) and where I met my husband, Richard, a United Reformed Church minister nearly 15 years my senior. I became a committed Christian and married the minister of my church in 1985. My life was turned upside down in a really good way as I learned more and more about the Christian faith. I found it exciting and challenging (I still do)!
As the minister’s wife I supported Richard by helping with the church youth and children’s work, and has 2 children of my own – twin Jonathan and Danielle, born in 1988. We moved from Ashford to Basildon, Essex, then to Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, and finally to the Milton Keynes area. A low point came when our daughter, Stephanie, was stillborn in 1990. I was deeply depressed for a number of years. However, I experienced God’s healing power and also came to understand that God was calling me into church ministry. After several years working as a school classroom assistant I began training for the United Reformed Church ministry in Oxford. I was ordained in 2001 and served for 6 years planting a ‘café style’ church in Brackley, Northamptonshire.
Both Richard and I experienced health problems. I had ME (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and Richard was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. We struggled on for a while but in 2008 took ill-health retirement and settled by the sea Morecambe, Lancashire. We were very happy there and imagined we would live there for the rest of our earthly lives! But God’s plans are not always our plans…I recovered from ME during a 3 day course called ‘The Lightning Process’ and began to ask God what he wanted me to do next!
The answer seemed to be making myself available to return to ordained ministry wherever God wanted me! And so I moved to Eastham, on the Wirral, serving St David’s United Reformed Church and Mersey Synod, helping people embrace the concept of ‘Fresh Expressions’ – developing church in ways that are relevant to people with little or no church experience. This was exciting work; hard at times but, with Jesus as my role model and the empowering of the Helper; the Holy Spirit, I believe I was able to encourage some people to step out in faith to try new things and take hold of the abundant life God has for each one of us.
For various reasons another move seemed likely and the profile I read for Trinity Church Totton and the Free Church Chaplain role at the University of Southampton seemed to fit my profile! I am excited to be ministering in Totton, in a church where many people are deeply committed to prayer and spiritual growth and keen to explore ways in which the community outside the church can have opportunities to encounter the Christian faith. The university work is refreshing as it brings me into contact with many young adults just beginning their faith journeys and it is uplifting working as part of a team offering support to both students and staff.
It is a privilege to serve our amazing God; a challenge, too; often with as many ‘downs’ as there are ‘ups’ but always there is, for me, a firm sense of purpose and belonging ; a sense of security and being loved. I am delighted to be here in Totton, setting out on a new adventure with Trinity Church.