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Saying Goodbye to Debbie

by Michael Ford last modified 18 Dec, 2019 05:31 PM

Friends and colleagues gathered together this week to say farewell to a lady that has always gone above and beyond in her role.

Saying Goodbye to Debbie

Debbie's card with all the Bishops of Sherborne she has worked for

Debbie Albery will be retiring from the Sherborne Office at Christmas and a special farewell tea was held at South Canonry. It gave many people the opportunity to thank Debbie and wish her well for the future.

Bishop Karen said:

"Debbie will be sadly missed in the Sherborne Office. She has served a succession of archdeacons and bishops in Dorset with a generous spirit, willingness to serve and courtesy. We have all been very different and Debbie has adapted so well to support us all. She will continue to serve in her own benefice as an LWL and on the Sudan Committee for the pre-Lambeth Conference arrangements. I am pleased we shall still benefit from her gifts in the Sherborne area and in the Diocese and in giving thanks for her years of service, wish her well for a long and enjoyable retirement."

Saying Goodbye to Debbie- Bishop Karen, Debbie, Malcolm, Bishop Nicholas

Bishop Karen and Debbie with Malcolm and Bishop Nicholas

The Ven Paul Taylor, former Archdeacon of Sherborne, has been reflecting back on Debbie's time serving the Diocese:

"There are always a few key people in any organisation whose memory, knowledge, and wisdom are vital to its functioning; Debbie Albery, PA to the Bishop of Sherborne, is such a person for the Diocese of Salisbury. However, after 14 years working in the Sherborne Office, Debbie retires on the 19th December and for the above reasons she will be very greatly missed.

"Debbie is one of those energetic polymaths who leave most of us feeling tired, as we contemplate all they do. As well as a busy and demanding working life in the Sherborne Office, she has at the same time been Milton and Blandford’s Deanery Secretary; PCC Secretary of Winterborne Whitechurch; a Lay Pastoral Assistant, caring for the housebound; Lay Pastoral Assistant trainer for Milton and Blandford; a Lay Worship Leader; and a Night Stop host, frequently providing a bed in her home for teenagers in crisis.

"Debbie’s infectious ‘can-do’ attitude not only ensures that things get done (extremely efficiently), but has enthused and inspired many others to get ‘stuck in’ too. This phenomenal energy and competency has not only been a personal benefit to three Bishops of Sherborne and several Archdeacons, but has been massively influential across the parishes of Dorset and in the wider Diocese, where in many ways Debbie has made a significant contribution to the growth and vitality of the Church, not least in helping facilitate diocesan LPA ministry and as Secretary to the Diocesan Mission Committee.

"There’s no doubt that Debbie’s amazingly varied career before coming to work in the Sherborne Office in 2005 has provided her with a huge number of helpful skills and experiences, and always enabled her to be wonderfully adaptable and flexible. Growing up in Staffordshire with her twin sister, she graduated from Nottingham University with a degree in Geology.

"She then did something very different, taking herself off to London to join the Metropolitan Police, where she worked in the heart of the West End. She was promoted to Sergeant and eventually joined the Murder Squad, which has provided her with a wonderfully ability to suss people out pretty quickly! 10 years in the Met was followed by a move to the Civil Service, working in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishery, and Foods, which was followed by the biggest career change of all, when she trained as a Beauty Therapist. Which of these was most useful in her role as Bishop’s PA is an interesting point of conjecture!

"Above all, what Debbie will be missed for is her care of people. She has been brilliant in reminding us that tasks, administration, and organisational activity are always first and foremost about people and relationships. She has been instrumental in helping ensure that the Diocese is experienced as a community of care and inclusion, which arises from her understanding that we are to respond to God’s compassionate love through the way that we live with one another. In this massively important way Debbie’s faith has been expressed in her work, work that has in a very real sense, been a ministry.

"Debbie has in so many ways gone well beyond the call of duty. Perhaps one of the most significant examples of this was walking 50 miles in a day, from Sherborne Abbey to St Aldhelm’s Head, to raise money for the new church in Crossways. She willingly joined the Bishop and Archdeacon of Sherborne in this venture, although it was certainly not in the job description they had originally given her!

"It was fitting that Bishop Nicholas was able to thank Debbie for the enormous contribution she has made to the diocese, when he awarded her the Aldhelm Cross in November.

"The diocese has much to thank Debbie for and she will truly be greatly missed. She is not going into a new career, but to have a well earned rest and to give more time to her family, including her husband Malcolm, who has supported her and the Diocese throughout her time with us and of course, her 2 wonderful grandchildren."

Lynda Booth, PA to the Archdeacons of Sherborne and Dorset, who worked alongside Debbie for the past 7 years said:

"I could not think of a better person to share an office with. We worked out that we spend more time with each other than we do with our husbands.

"We have a lot in common and have shared many a lunchtime knitting or crocheting for our families, much to the amusement of the Previous Archdeacon of Sherborne Paul Taylor, who would rib Debbie constantly about her knitting prowess. I now consider Debbie as a close friend and will miss working with this lady very much."

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