Introducing The Reverend John Spiers
I was born in Worcestershire where my father worked as a printer after serving in the Royal Navy during World War II. Our family moved to Coventry in 1960. My older brother, Anthony, and I both went to one of the local grammar schools and we both left home in 1973; I went south to Reading where I studied for an Engineering Science degree whilst my brother went north to study horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh. My mother has recently moved from Coventry to a residential care home in Herefordshire.
As a family, we worshipped at our local church but, when I was a teenager, I became a server at Coventry Cathedral, that fine example of modern, post war church architecture. I stopped serving there when I moved away and started work for an oil company in road transport operations. However, my connection with the Cathedral continued. My wife, Doreen, and I were married there in 1980 having met when I was working in Ellesmere Port in 1977. We still visit Ellesmere Port to see her father who turns 97 this year. We continued to worship at the Cathedral until we moved to a small village in Buckinghamshire in the early 1990’s where we built our own home (not advisable if you are of a nervous disposition!).
There we started to worship in the local village church; I became churchwarden, helped organise the monthly all-age worship and Doreen was both PCC secretary and deanery synod secretary. By this time I was working in IT project management with the same oil company.
When my employer relocated from their main London office to Sunbury on Thames we moved to Hampshire. We thought – ah, a break from parochial duties, yet less than a year later I was churchwarden at St Michael’s, Heckfield and Doreen a PCC member. I stood down as churchwarden in the last year of my training to be a priest.
So why become a priest? The seeds were sown during our time in Buckinghamshire, working with an inspirational parish priest. I describe the sense of being called to be a priest as feeling a gentle tap on one’s shoulder and seeing no-one behind you. I tried to ignore this gentle but persistent tapping. Then, one Sunday whilst on holiday in Shropshire, we went to church and the preacher was preaching on ‘vocation’. I felt I was the intended recipient of the message! I thought it time to do something about this so I attended the Winchester Diocese’s Exploring Vocation course, went through the diocesan and national selection process and was accepted for training as a priest in May 2010. I started on the Oxford Ministry Course at Ripon College, Cuddesdon in September 2010 having taken early retirement. Then, in 2013, I was ordained and licensed as a curate in the parishes of Eversley and Darby Green in North East Hampshire, a few miles from where we live.
Looking back, my curacy has been hugely rewarding. I was fortunate to serve my title in two distinct parishes, one suburban and the other a large rural village. My training incumbent has been very supportive and I have learnt a great deal from him ranging from schools ministry to funeral ministry. Since February 2016 I have covered the vacancy in these parishes caused by my training incumbent moving.
So what of hobbies and pastimes? We both enjoy cycling, walking and gardening. We are members of the National Trust and we swim most mornings before breakfast. Since Doreen retired a few years ago after a long career as a solicitor, she volunteers at the Citizens’ Advice Bureau in a nearby town and at a National Trust property, Nuffield Place near Nettlebed. In addition to these activities she is a volunteer at a local foodbank and continues to undertake various roles within the parish of Heckfield, Mattingley and Rotherwick where we live.
We are looking forward to moving to Amberley and the benefice. Most of the time it is an exciting prospect but sometimes it can feel somewhat daunting. Having moved parishes before we are sure we will be welcomed by the congregations and will soon get to know people in the community, starting at my licensing on Sunday 7th May at 4.30pm.
Revd. John Spiers