Revd Rick Simpson to be next Archdeacon of Auckland. (Picture: Keith Blundy)

A celebratory Evensong on Sunday 11 February at Durham Cathedral saw new appointments within the Diocese of Durham and at Durham Cathedral.
Simon Wood, a serving judge with lifelong links to music and volunteering in the Church of England, has been installed as a Lay Member of Chapter and a Lay Canon of the Cathedral. Two existing members of Chapter, Ivor Stolliday and Cathy Barnes, have been made Lay Canons. The Chapter is the Cathedral’s governing body, chaired by the Dean of Durham, the Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett.  Its members are a combination of clergy and lay people and represent a breadth of experience.
The Reverend Rick Simpson, formerly of St Brandon’s, Brancepeth, in the Diocese of Durham, has been installed as the Archdeacon of Auckland, a senior leadership position within the Diocese of Durham. This installation follows the retirement of the Venerable Nick Barker in July last year.

In his new role, Rick Simpson is responsible for the Archdeaconry in the southern part of the Diocese. This includes Stockton and Darlington on its southern boundary, Teesdale and Weardale in the North and West, and Bishop Auckland. He will also take the lead on interim ministry in the Diocese, initially assisting the new Priest in Charge at Holy Trinity & St Cuthbert Darlington.
Commenting on his appointment, Rick said: “I am hugely excited to have been appointed Archdeacon of Auckland. Within the Church of England as a whole and also in the Diocese of Durham this is a time of real challenge, but also great opportunity. I look forward very much to joining Bishop Paul and his Leadership Team, and working alongside the members and leaders of our churches, as we try together to ensure that all we do in worship, mission and ministry celebrates and shares the love and blessing of God.”
Simon Wood, who has been installed as a Lay Member of Chapter and honorary Lay Canon during Sunday’s Evensong service, was born in North Shields and spent his formative years as a Chorister at Durham Cathedral. He went on to the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle before studying law at Newcastle University. Entering the legal profession, Simon progressed to the Bar, where over the course of an almost 40 year career he has served as a barrister and judge across the north of England and beyond. Simon was appointed as a full time Circuit Judge in 2008, and devotes the majority of his professional time to the Family Court, ruling on cases involving children in the care system.
Simon has sung in choirs ever since leaving the Chorister School, including in Newcastle Cathedral Choir and, since 1982, as a member of what is now the Chorus of the Royal Northern Sinfonia, based at the Sage Gateshead.
“My time as a chorister at Durham Cathedral was the most important formative experience of my life, leaving an indelible mark on the pattern of my life.” Simon says, “It is therefore both a privilege and a pleasure to be able to make a further contribution to the Cathedral. In my case it will be built particularly on my legal and governance experience. I look forward to joining over 750 volunteers who are so moved by this remarkable place as to want to contribute to its success as a place of prayer and worship, as the spiritual hub of the Diocese of Durham, and as a unique World Heritage site with all its historic associations.”
Ivor Stolliday and Cathy Barnes are both Lay Members of the Chapter of Durham Cathedral, contributing to its governance. Ivor Stolliday’s other governance roles include Chair of Visit County Durham; Cathy Barnes’ professional background is in education and she has previously been Chair of the National Glass Centre, Sunderland.
The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham says, “We welcome Simon to the Chapter of Durham Cathedral and are sure his wealth of experience and affinity with Durham and North East England will be of huge benefit to the Cathedral and the wider community.  We congratulate the Reverend Rick Simpson on his appointment as Archdeacon of Auckland.  His local knowledge and understanding of the needs of the Diocese of Durham gained as Vicar of St Brandon’s, Brancepeth, stand him in good stead as he takes on the challenges of his new role.”
The Right Reverend Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham preached at the service and officiated over the installations.  Music was sung by Durham Cathedral Choir and included John Tavener’s Collegium Regale and O Clap your hands by Orlando Gibbons.

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