New Readers licensed by Bishop at Cathedral service

On Sunday (28th Sept), the Bishop of Dover, the Right Reverend Trevor Willmott  licensed four people as Readers, including a former RAF engineer and a consultant insurance analyst, at a special service in Canterbury Cathedral.

A Reader is a voluntary lay person who is theologically trained and licensed to preach, teach, lead worship and assist in pastoral, evangelistic and liturgical work. There are currently over 10,000 Readers in the Church of England.

Martin Lees – Great Chart, St Mary with Singleton

Martin LeesAfter a long career as an actuary in the life insurance industry, Martin has spent the past ten running training courses on how to analyse insurance companies – work that has taken him as far afield as Sydney, Mumbai, Hong Kong and New York.

Martin, who is taking semi-retirement to enable him to fulfil his voluntary role as a Reader, says about retirement: “Taking retirement should not be a life of passivity or self-absorbed leisure but I believe we should all aim to be contributing to society for as long as health permits. Psalm 92:14 has spoken to me in this respect: ‘they still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green’.”

Involved in the Ministry team at Great Chart and Singleton, Martin is married to Sally, a Head Teacher of a local Secondary School. Martin said: “I am looking forward to spending more time in the parish, interacting with the people living there, and using the teaching skills that I have developed over the past ten years to inspire, encourage and challenge our congregations. As well as developing my preaching and worship-leading ministry, I am also looking forward to being able to explore new areas of ministry such as visiting the elderly, more involvement with home-groups, and exploring the potential for debt counselling locally.”

Barry Lock – Folkestone, Trinity Benefice

Barry LockBarry was born into a large farming family of eight children and at age 15 joined the RAF as an Electrical Technician. After serving for nearly 25 years, Barry took voluntary redundancy and took up a post in industry. He subsequently suffered three further redundancies, which shaped his decision to explore his call to serve God: “The final redundancy woke me up, so to speak, and brought me back into the Anglican Church. I felt safe and free and started a course at the London School of Theology and soon after was accepted for Reader training.”

Married for 45 years to Sue, with five children and eight grandchildren, Barry, who lives in Folkestone, describes his real passion for Reader ministry as being able to meet and talk to people, ‘helping and accepting them for who they are.’ He concluded: “Being a Reader in training has already given more opportunity for that and more doors are opening all the time.”

Ann McDonald – Maidstone, St Faith

Ann McDonaldAnn says that her belief in God has altered over time. “As a child I remember believing in God but as a far away in the sky sort belief and it wasn’t until I became a teenager that I started to understand that the Christian faith was about God wanting to restore a broken relationship between  Himself and humankind (and ultimately his created world). There was a period in my late 30s to mid-40s when I stopped believing in God. This happened as a result of a fairly serious breakdown combined with coping with the death of my father.”

Ann continued “However, when I heard the voice of God calling me back to him it was a real prodigal experience and the love I experienced then has not left me. It was with me through the grief of losing my husband after less than 7 years of marriage; it has also been constant through the struggles of studying for Reader training.”

Ann, who is part of the team at St Faiths Maidstone, loves playing Scrabble with the original rules and enjoys reading a vast array of literature. She concluded; “My passion is to see justice prevail, in the workplace, in our communities and in the world at large. I am looking forward to using the knowledge I have learnt in training for effective ministry and the knowledge I have learnt about myself and my own spirituality during this journey, to give hope to those who struggle.”

Gavin Netherton – Canterbury, St Mary Bredin

Gavin NethertonAfter jobs working as a security guard, cleaner and warehouse officer, Gavin took a career change to work in social care in 2010. “It was at a Detling conference where I saw a presentation by Prospects about the work they do ministering to people with learning disabilities that I first felt called to work in this area. When I saw in the presentation people of all abilities worshipping together I wanted to be part of something like that.”

Married to Helen, a secondary school RE teacher, Gavin is involved in the ministry team at St Mary Bredin in Canterbury. Describing himself as an ‘ordinary person’, Gavin says: “God has entrusted the mission of sharing the gospel to ordinary people. We should be encouraged that we all have a part to play in being the church. As a reader I see it as part of my role to inspire people to do what God has called them to do. The Bible is full of ordinary people who God used in extraordinary ways.”


Further information from: Emily Shepherd, Director of Communications, Canterbury Diocese 01227 459 401, 07876 210 446,