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Revd Richard Hutchins - 100 days in post

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  • Published: 23rd June 2020
  • Categories: Blog, Business, Clanfield

Revd Richard Hutchins - 100 days in post

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The Revd Richard Hutchins, who was installed as vicar of All Saints, Catherington and St James, Clanfield on 14th March, is marking his first 100 days in post with an interview with Clanfield Online.

Tell me about yourself

By way of introduction, I am the Reverend Richard Hutchins or to be more complete The Reverend Commander Richard Hutchins Royal Navy (Retd). The Commander RN bit was my previous vocation; I was a Marine Engineer (Submarines) for 28 years. My sea time was in nuclear boats, looking after the nuclear propulsion system (think posh plumbing!), and all the other big mechanical and electrical stuff.

I was born in the South East and, when I was 5, the family moved to NE England just outside Newcastle. I left in 1989 when I joined the RN, but my parents and siblings are still there. A call to ordination in the Church of England began in 2008, but it took me quite a while to accept this and so I didn't start training (in Theology, Ministry and Mission) until 2014. I left the RN in 2017, about a month before my ordination as Deacon in Portsmouth Cathedral; I was ordained priest the following year.

What brought you to Clanfield?

My family and I arrived at the vicarage in mid-February, but the formal start of my role was 100 days ago, on Saturday 14th March, when Bishop Christopher, the Lord Bishop of Portsmouth, Licensed and Installed me as Priest-in-Charge of the United Benefice of Catherington and Clanfield. For Priest-in-Charge think Vicar, and for United Benefice think two parishes with one Vicar.

I have come to the village to serve as your Priest, following a curacy (a training post) in Liss. Why here? Because I have a strong sense of calling to this place, since a casual visit to St James and All Saints, around the time when my predecessor Gill was retiring. This felt the right place to be, for me to grow - and so here I am! I came quite late to the Church of England - which meant confirmation was part of the process. As a result, I am the only person that our Bishop has confirmed, ordained, and licensed to parish ministry in his diocese....a small claim to fame if ever there was one!

Introduce your family?

I am husband to Diana and we have two sons: Jonathan who has completed his second year studies in Medicine at University College London, and Angus, who is one of those waiting for A Level results by college assessment rather than exams; he plans to read for a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering at Loughborough University.

I met Diana while training for my submarine nuclear engineering qualifications at HMS SULTAN in Gosport. Her dad was Captain of the same establishment - yes, I married the Captain's daughter. There was suddenly a great deal of interest from the establishment boss in a particular course of junior submarine Engineer Officers!

You arrived at an extraordinary moment?  

I arrived in the parish at an unprecedented time, filled with challenges and opportunities. I haven't yet really met most of my congregation members, but I have been privileged to chat with many local people whilst walking around the village and volunteering as ‘door warden’ outside the Budgens Store. Like many other organisations, our challenge is to navigate the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions, interpreting and implementing changing guidance in fluid circumstances.

There have been some real positives in the past 100 days: how the community rose to the challenge of supporting one another and, how technology has enabled the church to gather in the virtual, if not the real world. However, I think the biggest positive is how this crisis has shown that the true nature of church is the people, and is not confined or defined by the buildings - important as they are.

I really look forward to getting to know many more people face-to-face; it has been great to be out and about. If you see me in the village - please stop, say hi and have a chat with me!

What do you do to relax – likes/dislikes?

I hope to regain a golf game in due course. It is a sport I enjoy, but I've found myself "between rounds" for a couple of years now. I am an avid reader and I love DIY and cooking. I'm a passionate Formula One fan - and pretty much all other motorsport. I enjoy photography and like catching those occasional shots that make me go "that's really good, that is". Diana and I both enjoy gardening which is a good thing as the Vicarage has plenty to offer!

Dislikes? Carrots, pineapple, coconut – over-long meetings - and the pesky squirrels that pinch the peanuts from my bird feeder.

Your hopes for the future?

My hope is to see the churches in this area thriving together - and connecting people with the abundance of life that goes with faith.

I love the fact that there are two Church of England schools in the parish and I really look forward to doing lots with them: not being able to visit and talk to pupils and staff is probably the greatest pain in the coronavirus restrictions for me personally.

I really hope that the connections we have made over the past 100 days will continue: when things return towards whatever normal will become - that they won't just be lost in the busyness of life. I hope that the community will continue to look out for each other, to take time for each other and that your churches will be a vital part of the weft and warp that make Clanfield and Catherington such enriching places to live.

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