I’m Simon Foulkes and I think I have one of the most interesting and fascinating jobs in the Diocese. So it always surprises me when colleagues tell me it must be boring! It enables me to do something I like, which is solving problems in a way that helps people.
The people I am here to help specifically are the adults and children in our Church of England Schools and Academies. Whenever repairs are needed to buildings, or schools want to increase numbers or expand classrooms, or when the Diocese wants to open a new school or replace structures – then we quickly find there are ancient Trusts or Deeds, there are money problems or legal regulations, and my role is to help everyone pick their way through the maze and come out the other side. When a school is converting to Academy status, all these matters have to be carefully sorted out. If we succeed then our Church Schools can thrive, and their witness, ministry, distinctiveness and contribution to the values of our society are enabled to flourish – and are safeguarded for the future. That ‘fits’ with our Diocesan vision and my sense of vocation. My specific roles include managing schools’ capital projects, academy conversions, site and trust issues, as well as monitoring Academy finances and contributing to the Diocese’s management of its property portfolio. I am fortunate to be part of a happy and growing team of people who are working to the same goals.
As a priest I contribute to my local churches in The Romney Marsh Benefice which means I often have the pleasure of cycling along the sea wall to take a service in St Marys Bay or Burmarsh, or join the happy crowd at Dymchurch or share the remote loveliness of St Mary in the Marsh, Newchurch, Ivychurch or Old Romney. And sometimes I get to stand and serve in the exquisite beauty of St Nicholas New Romney which is one of the finest church buildings I know. Once or twice a month I am blessed to be qualified to drive the miniature express trains on the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.
Anyway, I’d love to meet you: if you ever come to Diocesan House please take a minute to come and say hello.