Your basket
Your basket
0 items - £0.00

Personal tools

Home News Meet our new priests for 2021

Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Meet our new priests for 2021

by Michael Ford last modified 25 Jun, 2021 02:37 AM

From waiting to meet 70% of your congregation and struggling with the isolation of lockdown to learning how to take services on Zoom and adopting two dogs, our new priests have been recalling the highs and lows of serving their first year of ministry in a pandemic.

There is also the challenge of meeting your congregation on Zoom, and then trying to recognise them without masks: just one of the new Covid-related skills our new 2021 priests have had to learn during 12 months serving as a deacon.

The 14 deacons from a range of urban and rural parishes across Wiltshire and Dorset will be ordained priests at Salisbury Cathedral on Saturday 26th June at 4.30pm.

Last year, the Ordinations needed to be delayed until September because of lockdown, and just like the deacon ordinations there will be Covid restrictions in place.

Dorset’s new priests are:

Sharon Boyle         - Wimborne Minster and Wimborne Villages
Helen Croud          - Bridport
Karen Franklin       - Canford Magna
Leila Mather          - Charminster, Stinsford and the Chalk Stream villages
Matt Smith             - Corfe Mullen
Sally Taylor            - Hamworthy
Nick Webb             - St Aldhelm
Nick Wells              - Wimborne Minster and Wimborne Villages
Helen Williams       - Wareham

Wiltshire’s new priests are:

Alison Alexander    - Salisbury St Thomas and St Edmund
Adrian Burholt        - Wellsprings
Katie Jackson        - Broughton Gifford, Great Chalfield and Holt St Katharine
Gerard Lynch         - Devizes St John and St Mary
Caroline Spindlow - Warminster Christ Church


Meet some of Dorset's new Priests...

Dorset Priest Nick Webb

Nick Webb - St Aldhelm

Nick Webb previously worked as a full-time pioneer youth Minister within the Swanage church team ministry and is now a garden designer as well as a minister in the St Aldhelm Benefice.
"Thankfully," he says, "I have been able to continue in my garden work profession, but conversations with people have had to be via closed windows and the ability to get to know parishioners has been extremely limited or via Zoom – a poor but necessary substitute for face-to-face meetings.

"I’m told all the time that I’m an unusual priest because I drive a pick-up truck for work, am often driving diggers and using chainsaws and have been on the lifeboat crew for a significant period of my past 20 years living in Swanage.

"But my primary skill is to be able to communicate the love of Christ effectively with those living in our community.

"So many things have been the 'best bit' – but the lack of pressure in the role and final responsibility has been lovely."

Married with three boys under the age of ten, as well as juggling a business and ministry, means that wellbeing must be managed.

Nick says: "We really enjoy cycling together, and when I can get away, I really enjoy outdoor climbing – particularly tackling the Via Ferrata climbs in the Alps. I also really enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles with my wife in the evenings."

And ministry life is for living to the full. He adds: “I’m looking forwards to taking some of the many weddings which are booked in – many of which have changed the date three times - and I’m particularly looking forwards to taking ceremonies at St Aldhelm's Head Chapel.

"Although it has been the most stressful time in my entire life, it has also been affirming, liberating, transformative and totally completing of who I was made to be by a God who is loving and enabling above all else.

"If you feel called, don’t hesitate – test the water and push some doors!"

Dorset Priest Sharon Boyle- photo by Ian GrimblyPhoto by Ian Grimbly

Sharon Boyle - Wimborne Minster and Wimborne Villages

Sharon Boyle, a curate in Wimborne Minster and the Wimborne villages, has really struggled with the separation brought about by the pandemic.

She says: "The inability to meet people in the parish and schools has affected me, and it's been completely out of my comfort zone, sitting and recording myself for services and assemblies!
"I can't wait to get out and meet more of the parishioners. This has been really hard."

Like several colleagues in this year's ordinations, Sharon is a self-supporting minister. She says:
"I have a nursing background, both for the NHS and charity abroad, specialising in paediatrics.
"The pastoral element has definitely been a transferable skill that has been taken into my ministry. I can see this continuing into my role as Priest.

"I wanted to focus on chaplaincy and families, although this has been difficult for the first year of curacy.

"I love the fact that I am in a self-supporting role. I work as a hospital chaplain and part time as a teaching assistant in a special school but have been able to use my ministry in those places too. A foot in the world and a foot in the Church – an absolute privilege. Nothing better!

Married to Christian, with two teenage children and "a crazy cocker spaniel called Willow", Sharon undertook the rural pathway at Sarum College and enjoys doing ballet once a week, walking the dog, and reading a good book. She adds:

"Really looking forward to theatres reopening too!"

Looking back, what was the best bit of being a deacon? "Being able to share my calling with those around me. My ordination as deacon opened up lots of conversations with colleagues at school and in other places."

Dorset Priest Nick Wells

Nick Wells - Wimborne Minster and Wimborne Villages

Nick Wells is one-half of a busy ministry team focussing on faith, the arts and young people. He says:

"I’m married to Reverend Ruth Wells who leads the Multi Faith Chaplaincy Team at Arts University Bournemouth and Bournemouth University, and we have 3 children aged 14, 10 and 3.

"I worked as a local authority youth worker for 13 years, a parish youth worker for 3 years, and then a Bournemouth YMCA youth worker whilst training for ordination.

"I've not used those skills as much as I’d hoped due to lockdowns and restrictions, although I have started attending our choristers’ rehearsals and I’ve been working with [Diocesan Youth Adviser] Lizzie Whitbread and the Wimborne Academy Trust to help in setting up a Community Hub.

"I think Covid caused me to stop and listen to the needs of the parish and community more easily!"

While Ruth, a priest and poet, works in Bournemouth, Nick works ten miles away in Wimborne Minster and the Minster Villages. Time is precious, but he makes time for other ventures and is excited about the future. He says:

"I look forward to getting more involved in the community and getting to know people in parish better as things continue to open up. I’m also excited and humbled at the prospect of presiding at my first Eucharist.

"I’m still writing and recording songs occasionally which I usually post on YouTube.

"And from September I’ll be working with Queen Elizabeth Upper School to help support their students, as well as exploring the possibility of developing coming-of-age rites of passage with them."

Dorset Priest Helen Croud

Helen Croud - Bridport

Bridport's Helen Croud has been in her element as a deacon, helping with church outreach in the local area.

A former administrator, dental nurse, business development coordinator, community outreach coordinator and Christians Against Poverty volunteer, and now a minister, Helen has had a busy year, along with her three daughters and two dogs.

She says: "It has been such an honour to use all the skills from previous jobs and I've learnt new skills this year to serve the incredible town I live in.

"I have loved working with local funeral directors and community support services, coming alongside people during happy and sad occasions in their lives. I have never felt so humbled and honoured in my whole life.

"Was my ministry affected by Covid? Yes! But haven’t we all been? Let’s keeping working together and moving forward.

"I have been able to learn lots about this friendly town and get stuck in.

"I've even been in a local quiz team, and we managed to win once!

"I'm looking forward to getting to meet more people in person. Singing! To be able to hug those who are mourning and touch someone’s head whilst blessing them. Also returning to communion in two kinds, really just more normality for people in our churches."

Unusual fact? "I love cleaning!"

What are you least looking forward to? "Winter in cold church buildings! Clergy-wear needs to be warm!"

Dorset Priest Matt Smith

Matt Smith - Corfe Mullen

Corfe Mullen's Matt Smith reckons his 30 years as a plumbing and heating engineer was good preparation for ministry.

He says: "My plumbing life meant spending lots of time in people’s homes, getting to know them and helping them to make decisions that were often quite expensive or worrying.

"Building a good relationship through integrity and mutual trust was an essential part of building my business and being able to help out those who found themselves worried about the cost of repairs was something that bought me as much blessing as it was for them."

Married to Lisa, "a keen gossip for Jesus," the family has been preparing for the wedding of son Jordan and future daughter-in-law Rowena, who will be married the weekend after ordination - and Matt will be taking the wedding as a brand-new priest.

Ministry life has had its pressures and frustrations as well as its joys. Speaking of his time as a deacon, Matt says candidly:

"It's been difficult to build firm, strong relationships with congregation members. Facial recognition and remembering names have been hard when you only see people's eyes.

"So far, I've learnt a lot about producing online services, using video editing suites and being creative in this area.

"I've particularly enjoyed learning to take funerals and feel that this is part of ministry where I have, surprisingly, come into my own.

"I now see them as a real opportunity to demonstrate the love and grace of Jesus to folk who are struggling.

"I'm now beginning to explore the idea of 'Wild Church', bringing a service outside into the woodland, perhaps offering something fresh to our community."

Dorset Priest Helen Williams

Helen Williams - Wareham

Former astrophysicist and science teacher Helen Williams, based in Wareham, has refreshed her skill set in these pandemic times by getting used to Zoom conferencing and video editing.

She says: "Teaching and IT skills are helpful and I always enjoy talking about science and faith. God can use all sorts of past experience in unexpected ways!"

Aiming to work in a rural parish, Helen says: "I meant to adopt one dog and ended up with two - Rosie, a golden retriever, and Wilberforce, a Labrador - to go with my cat, Clover!

"I play clarinet in The Wimborne Orchestra and enjoy birdwatching and am fortunate one of our churches is within RSPB Arne, a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

"For me, the best bit of being a deacon was funerals, and I'm most looking forward to officiating at my first wedding."

Dorset Priest Karen Franklin- with Neil

Karen Franklin - Canford Magna

Karen Franklin feels right at home in ministry, saying, "It’s the best thing I've ever done, and I feel so complete doing it.

"I've always felt that something was missing in my work life, not being able to minister to people and show them the hope they can have in Jesus was so, so painful."

Based at the Lantern Church in Merley and looking to continue in urban ministry, former social worker and childminder Karen has the heart of a pioneer evangelist and missioner.

She says:" My background as a child and young person was chaotic, difficult and painful, But Gods love was far bigger. When I am prompted to share my testimony, I love seeing how God uses it for his glory.

"Working in a community mental health team has a very collaborative approach where all the healthcare professionals focus their skills and gifts around the needs of the patient.

"This is a great approach to building up the church and is especially helpful in helping lay people identify and use their gifts.

"The pandemic has been a real opportunity to come close to those that don’t yet know him. At no other time have I ever seen so many people, so eager to know more about God.

"Being able to share the hope of Jesus with people facing really dark times, seeing people come to faith and so many come to church - in the building and online - has been unbelievably life-giving, I feel I am doing what I was born to do.

"And I've still not met 70% of our congregation!"

A mother of four with two dogs, Karen is making the most of every day. Looking forward to a whole list of things - weddings; exploring faith with others; church picnics and shared meals; cricket; away days; midweek groups for children, young people and adults; Alpha, marriage and baptism courses - she enthuses:

"Wimborne Folk Festival are planning a festival for 2022 and have asked me to lead up a pastoral team to serve over 70,000 over three days, 24 hours a day. I am sooooo excited!

"I would encourage anyone who feels they might be called to ordination to talk to someone. There is so much help and support in helping you to discern where God is calling you. So be encouraged, contact your vicar or the Diocesan team, this could be the beginning of you finding and living out Gods calling for your life.

"I never ever thought I would be a vicar... it’s the best thing I've ever done, and I feel so complete doing it."

Dorset Priest Sally Taylor

Sally Taylor – Hamworthy

When pioneering deacon Sally Taylor was ordained last year, even a mask couldn’t hide the sheer joy she was feeling. captured by a photographer, her picture even graces our Statement of Needs for our new Bishop!

Sally has been serving in the coastal area of Hamworthy and Poole, does love to be by the seaside, and has found the restrictions of Covid to be the 'mother of invention'.

"I am loving being by the sea, so I'm swimming lots, carrying on with my running, and reading widely.

"Covid has allowed me to be creative in ministry right from the beginning and actually given us as a church many more opportunities to change and adapt more to serving our communities better.

"We've been creating new services and new expressions of church!

"I'm looking forward to growing and developing our church services as well as being involved in the CMS Pioneer Hub, continuing my work with Poole Missional Communities and growing the Woodland Toddler church I have started in the woods behind our church."

Married to Hospital Chaplain James, they have three children - two of whom are teenage - plus a cocker spaniel called Hetty, two chickens and a guinea pig.

With a background in teaching, community pastoring, pottery painting class tutoring, and even card designing, she is not short of creative ideas.

Sally says: "The best bit of being a deacon was finding my way of leading and preaching.

"I would like a pioneer post – could be either paid or unpaid. I'm open to either a rural or urban parish but would like to stay in the Poole or Dorset area if possible."

Fun fact? "I once hugged Michael Eavis (Glastonbury founder) while wearing a sheep costume in Shepton Mallet!"

On an encouraging note, Sally adds: "Never discount yourself. I went from never talking to vicars and staying at the back of church to where I am now."


Now meet three of Wiltshire's new Priests...

Wiltshire Priest Ali Alexander

Alison Alexander - Salisbury St Thomas and St Edmund

Ali Alexander, a Salisbury-based Nurse Practitioner and Matron with experience in acute and life-limiting disease, is also known for wearing bright colours, and has found her first twelve months in ministry to be a big adjustment.

Grateful for the support of her husband and two adult daughters, Ali says:

"I have a great love for rural ministry but have lived in an urban context for many years.

"It was a completely different deacon year to the one envisaged by my parish- no big events, very few offices and no parties! As I did not know what to expect, I came and offered the skills that I had to enable the continuing work of God through the church.

"The best bit, though, was learning more about my own faith and how I communicate it to those around me in words and deeds."

Focussing on communication and making connections for the vulnerable in the parish of St Thomas and St Edmund, particularly the elderly or those on their own, and working with groups to facilitate others, Ali has started to develop links as a Foundation Governor, with both staff and students.

She says: "I have used communication skills and discernment throughout my deacon year. I was able to come alongside individuals and groups to look at creative ways to maintain our Christian faith and mental and physical well-being during the pandemic.

"Getting to meet parishioners face-to-face rather than on Zoom will be great, though I suspect that my calendar will fill up quite quickly and I may have a lot to juggle.

"Besides ministry, I continue to enjoy playing music and singing as a hobby and I have started to learn New Testament Greek!"

And Ali has this to say to those heeding the call of God: "I took many years to hear the call to ordination and to explore it. Don’t be afraid to push the door and see if it opens for you."

Wiltshire Priest Katie Jackson

Katie Jackson - Broughton Gifford, Great Chalfield and Holt St Katharine

Katie Jackson has been serving her curacy in Broughton Gifford, Great Chalfield and St Katharine’s Holt, and is "Open to wherever God calls us to next."

"Us" includes her husband, two children and Charlie the cat.

"As a family we love the outdoors. The children and I continue to enjoy growing vegetables in the garden.

"Whilst this has been an immensely difficult year for everyone, some exciting opportunities have arisen. In particular developing an outdoor church service and finding new ways to minister through technology.

"As restrictions continue to ease, I am looking forward to all of the possibilities that lie ahead for mission and ministry. One of our churches is just finishing a reordering project and we are excited about how this will enable us to engage with and serve the community in new ways.

"Looking back, the best bits have been building relationships, working collaboratively and exploring new ways to serve the Benefice."

Wiltshire Priest Caroline Spindlow

Caroline Spindlow - Warminster Christ Church

Former Headteacher Caroline Spindlow shows no sign of slowing down in her early 60s. Excited to be in ministry in Christ Church Warminster, and open to possibilities, she says:

"I am having an amazing time as a curate. The team I am with is brilliantly led by the Revd Lorraine Dobbins and we spend a great deal of time in worship together and in reflection together. But we are also incredibly busy in the church and in the local community.

"My experience as a headteacher has been invaluable, from connecting to our local schools to being able to chair the PCC at short notice when my Training Incumbent fell off a bike and broke her shoulder!

"I have loved my work with our local school: Sambourne C of E Primary. Together we have explored a new vision for the school and the school has increasingly used our team to support their Collective Worship. The school is now coming to the church on a fortnightly basis, complete with risk assessments and special Covid procedures in place!

"As part of the church’s vision for the leaders to partner with the community I have become the Volunteer Co-ordinator of a Chat Café. It takes place on a Thursday morning in the Old Fire Station in Warminster. This is a place where those who are lonely or feeling isolated can connect with others. Our team of chatters will listen and chat away with them – and enjoy excellent coffee."

"My volunteer work continues with the Independent Monitoring Board at Erlestoke Prison – as their Board Development Officer it keeps me very busy. I believe that we make a real difference to prisoners lives and I thoroughly enjoy my chats with prisoners, officers and staff who work there. I’ve recently met with the Chaplaincy team there who are incredible!

"I have a marvellous husband, who is incredibly patient and puts up with my clergy panics, or changes in our diary; four grown-up children who have partners; and six grandchildren. In our immediate household are two gorgeous golden retrievers and, currently, ten golden retriever puppies – getting ready to find their forever homes.

"I also love cycling and I am cycling to Cornwall with two cycling buddies in September.

Fun fact? "I wear odd earrings – all the time, and on purpose! As a result of losing so many earrings, I now only wear odd earrings. It means that the earrings given to me for special occasions get worn much more regularly and I never throw any away because I’ve lost the pair.

"I am very excited about presiding at my first Eucharist. And am thrilled that I have a few weddings to prepare for – it is such a privilege to serve at these very special times.

"The best bit of being a deacon? All of it! But especially being in a vibrant church, with amazing Christians and terrific worship bands!

"Perhaps the biggest difference Covid made has been in the way that I have got to know our church family. It’s been challenging to see them on Zoom and then recall the name when you see the face with a mask on at church – but I am getting there!

"I’m really looking forward to the time when we can socialise and chat over cups of tea, meals and so on. It will be wonderful to get to know people better through that.

"The other huge area that has been impacted is the way we have had to do services. I can’t believe that I can now do videos, set up Zooms for funerals, do Facebook Live and put together short films for Collective Worship.

"I encourage anyone who feels that they would like to know more about ministry to go to the Diocesan Vocation Days. I tentatively went there around 5 years ago, and step by step things have moved forward to this extraordinary privilege of becoming a priest. People have been so kind, and so encouraging!"

Document Actions