Prior to this appointment, I have been a Business Studies Teacher at SFX for 18 years. Before that, I taught business and law for 14 years at South Thames College. I have always believed we each have a responsibility to help our fellow person, our ‘neighbour,’ whether we are religious or not.
The death of my wife, to cancer, in August 2018, after a four year fight to stay alive, has taken me on a journey of faith. I have to be honest, my faith was severely tested. I prayed and begged God to cure my wife, to free her of cancer, but she still died.
How did I reconcile this?
I came to the conclusion that her time had come to leave this world, as much as it hurt me and my family. My faith remained. In fact, it grew stronger. It helped me on my journey.
In deciding whether or not to accept the Chaplain’s role, I discussed the issue with my colleagues at the College, family members, friends and members of my Church. And I received a lot of positive support and encouragement.
I took the role for many reasons:
I believe in God; I have faith and I love the College and what is has done for me. I felt it was my way of saying ‘thank you,’ for all the College has done for me and my family. It felt like the right thing to do.
During my time as an SFX teacher, I have been fortunate to have met and built up friendships with some of the amazing Chaplains that the College has employed. These chaplains displayed warmth, compassion, a sense of humour, empathy, friendship, and a life of faith and prayer – while still remaining grounded and human. Some drank and danced with us at the social gatherings; others joined us, regularly, on the tennis courts. They were always available. They were one of ‘us.’
I took on the role because I understand our students and their hopes and aspirations. I know this, because I regularly have ‘chats’ with them during the year - inside and outside of the classroom. The students want to achieve and sometimes they need support, advice and guidance to help them on their way. Over the years, I have met a lot of our ex-students. They have gone on to lead positive and purposeful lives. In my role as Chaplain, I hope to continue this relationship with the students.
I also believe I am here for the staff. I understand the challenges faced by the teaching staff and I try to ensure I understand the challenges of other staff members, from the cleaners, security, estates and other areas of the College. I do this through conversations. I hope I can be there for everyone, if they need me. I can offer a smile, a listening ear, a cup of tea or coffee (hopefully accompanied by cake or biscuits) or just a short time out from the relentless demands of working in an educational institution.
My Vision for the Chaplaincy
- To have an open door policy
- That the Chaplaincy is open and welcoming to both staff and students
- That the Chaplaincy is dynamic and open to constructive suggestions
- That there will be activities, throughout the year, that will be inclusive and giving.
- That the Chaplaincy will be outward-looking, connecting with outside charities and groups.
- That the Chaplaincy will be inclusive of all faiths and those with no faith.
- That the Chapel is a sacred space, allowing for the practice of one’s faith, or spirituality or simply to ‘take time out’, for the demands of life.
- Peace, quiet and tranquillity.
At this point, I am feeling positive, enthusiastic and purposeful about this new academic year. Wish me luck!