Laying on of hands - by priests of the Diocese

Seventeen (17) people from diverse walks of life and all ages will be ordained as Priests and Deacons in the Diocese of Durham at ceremonies to be staged mainly at Durham Cathedral this Petertide (July 1st – 2nd & 3rd). Each one has been called to ordained ministry after amassing a wealth of experiences in a wide range of places and jobs.

2017 Deacon and Priests with Bishop Paul, Bishop Mark and DDO – Revd Richard Collins (Picture: Keith Blundy)


Deacons – To be ordained 2nd July 2017, Durham Cathedral

Those to be ordained Deacon by the Bishop of Durham, The Right Reverend Paul Butler in Durham Cathedral at 10.00am on Sunday 2nd July 2017

Frances Cooper, Gainford, St Mary and Winston, St Andrew

Frances Cooper, 60, was brought up in a mining village by her father and sister after her mother died when she was three.  She has worked predominantly in manufacturing for most of her working life.

She said: “I was not brought up in a ‘strict’ Christian household but we were very ecumenical.  I went to the Catholic and Methodist Church before going to the Anglican Church and getting involved there and being confirmed when I was 12.

“After a painful breakdown of my marriage when I was young I stopped going to church completely, only going back after the death of my brother.  I felt an overwhelming sense of God welcoming me back and have attended church every week since.

“Working full time and trying to study whilst maintaining a life in church, a life with my family and friends and some time with my husband has been very challenging. Also, having never gone to university it was very alien to me to study academically.  Having said this I have loved the knowledge I have gained and feel much more confident about discussing things theologically.”

Danny Driver, Gateshead, St George

Danny Driver, 23, has a sporting background and could have been a champion hurdler.

He said: “I grew up in inner city Liverpool where football was the main religion! It wasn’t long before I started to get involved in football myself as a young lad. As I grew older I started to try out different sports and one day discovered that I was a natural sprint hurdler. This discovery led me within the space of about ten weeks, going from not ever hurdling, to competing at the national championship in Gateshead – I never would have thought then that I’d be serving my curacy in Gateshead.”

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Simon Grundy, Herrington, St Aidan, Penshaw, All Saints, Shiney Row, St Oswald

Simon Grundy, 36, is a man not afraid to take on a challenge and one who is raising money to ease the suffering of others through running hundreds of miles for Christian Aid.

Born in Ryhope, Sunderland, he went on to study Theology at the University of Durham, having a career in Educational Publishing before unexpectedly feeling called to be a vicar’.

He said: “I run because I can. I run for fun and freedom. I realised, having seen that Christian Aid were looking for people to be sponsored to run in this year’s Great North Run, that I can support the work of this wonderful organisation.

“I hadn’t thought about the fact that something I can do could have such potential value to Christian Aid and through them people across the world struggling so desperately with poverty and its effects.”

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Carol Harris, Wheatley Hill, All Saints and Wingate with Hutton Henry

Carol Harris, 50, grew up in Rainhill in Merseyside. She was brought up as Christian being part of her local Anglican church. A Durham University graduate who became a teacher, she said: “I went back to teaching when I started working for Durham County Council’s Home and Hospital Service which involved teaching individual children with temporary medical needs. For the past seven years I have also been teaching one to one maths at Greenfield Community School in Newton Aycliffe.

“I strongly believe that God called me. For a long time I had been in lay leadership positions within my church and I sensed a calling to explore this further. I completed the Living Theology course and the Mission Shaped Ministry course before starting training as a Reader. While doing this I felt a strong call to ordained ministry  and so with the encouragement of others I began the discernment process. This confirmed what I felt and had felt from a young age.”

Emily Hudghton, Stockton Parish Church & Mark Hudghton Shildon, St John

Married couple Mark and Emily Hudghton are both being ordained at the same ceremony.

Emily, 27, studied English and Related Literature at The University of York before completing a Postgraduate Certificate of Education at the University of Sheffield. She was also the Youth Work Advisor for a church in York for a year in between.


Mark, 28, is the son of a vicar. Between 2007 and 2011 he studied for an Integrated Masters (MEng) in Computer Systems and Software Engineering at the University of York and became Chief Technical Officer (CTO) for a technology start-up company.

Emily said: “I met Mark in the first term of university, and we are celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary this summer.

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Mark Mawhinney, Seaham

Mark Mawhinney, 49, was born in Northern Ireland in County Down and attended Regent House School in Newtownards.

He began a career in teaching, first of all at Hurstpierpoint College in West Sussex and then in the North East at Durham School. While there he organised a Chapel Choir trip to Italy which included conducting the choir at Mass at St Mark’s Basilica in Venice.

He started teaching at Barnard Castle School in 2003. As well as preparing pupils for GCSE and A level music, he also ran the school’s Chapel Choir and Orchestra. While living in Barnard Castle, he was a member of the music group of the Friends of the Bowes Museum and conducted the annual carol concert for many years.

As director of Barnard Castle Choral Society, he conducted concerts in Durham Cathedral including a performance of J S Bach’s St Matthew Passion.

A highlight of his time at Barnard Castle School was a visit to London with the school choir when he sang Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral and for the Solemn Mass at Holy Redeemer Church in Clerkenwell. Since 2015 he has been studying theology at Oxford in preparation for ordination.

He said: “As I went through the discernment process in the Durham diocese, there was a slow and steady realisation that I was moving in the direction God wanted me to go in. This developed through many months of reading, praying and discussing with others.

“I am greatly looking forward to moving to my new parish and to getting to know parishioners and colleagues at all three churches in the parish.”

Sabine Tenge-Heslop, Harelaw and Annfield Plain, St Thomas

Sabine Tenge-Heslop, 58, grew up in Frankfurt.  At university Sabine studied biology and finished it with a first class master’s degree. 

She came to the North East and found work as a teacher of German, first in several schools, and then at Durham University before opting for ministry.

She said: “I feel I am getting closer to becoming the person God intended me to be.”

Graham Young, Sunderland, St Mary and St Peter

Graham Young, 33, grew up living all over the world (Bermuda, Ascension Island, Anguilla, Nigeria, Belgium and South Africa) and from 11 years old attended a boarding school in Dorset. He came to faith at 15, having been an atheist up till then in a non-church family.

He became a science teacher and eventually learning leader for Biology in a big academy in Consett, County Durham.

He said: “God seems to have picked me not because of my traits but despite them, yet equipping me as I need. I have learnt and continue to learn that He does not call people because they are wise or brave or clever or successful or sinless or holy – I am often none of those things – but perhaps because they are willing to trust God a little so that His grace can work a miracle in our lives and in those around us.”

He is an active member of the East Durham mission project and has attended All Saints, Wheatley Hill for the past two years.

PRIESTS – To be ordained 1st July 2017, Durham Cathedral

Those to be ordained Priest by the Bishop of Durham, The Right Reverend Paul Butler in Durham Cathedral at 5.00pm on Saturday 1st July 2017


Petrica Bistran, Silksworth, St Matthew

Petrică Bistran, 32, was born in Romania. He recalls: “I was quite confused growing up in an early ex-Communist environment. I became a Christian when I was about 15 and that was a very good thing for me but it also complicated life a bit. I wanted to become an artist so I went to an Art College, but art became a consuming little strange god, and I wasn’t quite satisfied with its importance. Art, like anything else, has its own limits of which I was quite the specialist in my naivety at that time. Adding to this the fact that God was, and surely still is, the most important person in the world for me it resulted in my decision to do a degree in theology and become a pastor.

“Moving to England and joining the local Anglican church in Nottingham, where we were at the time, turned out to be my long and sure path back to ministry.

“Having to work in my second language has been one of the biggest challenges for me beside all the drawbacks that come with being a foreigner. The advantage of this challenge, I guess, is the opportunity of being able to always learn something new.”

John Estall, Washington, Holy Trinity

John Estall, 35, grew up  in Poole, Dorset. At the age of fifteen he went on a school camp and every night they had hot chocolate. He recalls: “Both being allergic to chocolate, my friend and I sat outside and talked. As he talked I saw the change that Christ had made in his life and I wanted that change for myself, so I started to go to church with him.

“At eighteen I went to Moorlands College (in Hampshire) to study Applied Theology. Leaving Moorlands, I felt I wasn’t ready to enter full time ministry but still felt it might be right later in my life.

“From before I went to Moorlands I had a sense that God was calling me to some form of full time Christian ministry but I wasn’t quite sure what. As I spent time in a variety of local churches I began to shape a sense of what that might be, particularly as I began to feel more and more at home within the Anglican church. During this time, I developed a sense that this was the right place and time to explore ordination within the Church of England.”


Tony Holden, Esh and Hamsteels, Langley Park and Waterhouses, St Paul in plurality

Tony Holden, 62, was born in Durham the youngest child of seven. His father worked in the mines and his mother stayed at home and raised her family.

Having worked as a civil servant, after 25 years he took a 50% cut in salary and went to live in Whitby to run a residential and retreat centre owned by the Order of the Holy Paraclete.

He said: “I have always been involved with church throughout my life and have been churchwarden, PCC member and secretary and held other positions and have sung in church choirs all of my life.

“I suppose I have had a sense that I was “being called” to ordained ministry since my late teens. I have been greatly encouraged by my local clergy, by many of my friends and numerous members of the various congregations I have belonged to over the years and who at various times challenged me to think about it. But it never seemed the right time and something always seemed to come in the way and so I began to wonder if ordination was really for me or was my role always going to be a supporting role within the Church generally; I settled for the latter and hopefully always played my part.

“In 2007 my vicar approached me to think about Reader ministry which I did and after training I was licensed in 2010. Reader ministry has been very satisfying especially my work as a volunteer hospital chaplain in Sunderland but I still felt there was something very missing; a piece of the jigsaw that needed to be put in place.”

Jonathan Lloyd, Jarrow Team Ministry

Jonathan (Jonny) Lloyd, 29, went to university in Durham to study Philosophy and Psychology, during which time he spent a lot of time in the Cathedral as a choral scholar.

Having then trained as teachers, he and wife Emily moved around the world, including stints in Hertford and Hong Kong, during which period he was also discerning a vocation to ordained ministry in the Church of England  with the Diocese of Durham.

He said: “Lots of things brought me to ministry. Perhaps most important was that I had almost daily exposure to the Anglican choral tradition as a chorister and then choral scholar from the ages of about 7-22, so I suspect something rubbed off along the way.

“Having been more or less engaged in my faith as a teen, when I got to university I started increasingly to appreciate the richness of the Christian faith for itself, and was fortunate in that I received some fantastic pastoral care by people who took the idea of my having a vocation seriously and encouraged it.”

Muriel Peters, Haswell, Shotton and Thornley

Muriel Peters, 66, was born in Sunderland and grew up in Cheshire.

She said: “My parents firmly believed in the values of a good upbringing, having me baptised my Christian values in life. I was taught by my Grandmother who was a Methodist Chapel member. From a young age she would take me to the Chapel and there was always a sense of God in her life and that sense of God with me and I vividly recall at the age of seven talking about Jesus and we would say together The Lord’s Prayer.”

Her husband had his own business in Sunderland so a lot of years were given to building that business up but gradually she returned to church and ministry.

She said: ”When our second child was born our family was complete and being a stay at home mum the Church and toddlers group I became a regular visitor and found myself being more involved in the Church.”

Lesley Sutherland, Cornforth and Ferryhill

Lesley Sutherland, 55, was born in the North East and lived in Hetton le Hole before going to Oxford University. She qualified as a barrister in family law and practiced for 28 years before turning to ministry.

She said: “For many years I had an attraction to church which I didn’t understand; I loved the music, the liturgy, the culture of church but would not admit to the existence of God. In 2005, I had a full-blown religious experience whilst getting married; by the end of the service God had spoken to me, telling me that I was to offer myself for ordination. It took me another seven years of attempting to bargain with God before I understood I had to do it.”

Jacqueline Tyson, Sunderland Minster

Jacqui Tyson, 61, is Sunderland born and bred. She has had a very varied work career including bar work, shop work, youth work and office work but it was fostering, working in special schools, and later for social services in residential care for children with learning disabilities that brought her to thinking about God.

She said: “It has been a huge challenge to accept and respond to my vocation if I’m honest and it still is to some extent. I had so many excuses. Things like this don’t happen to people like me, I thought. God doesn’t call people like me. Except they do, God did, and here I am.”

PRIESTS – To be ordained 3rd July 2017, Auckland St Helen

Alistair Hodkinson, Auckland, St Helen

Alistair Hodkinson , 28, grew up in Tynemouth before going to study Music at Durham University. Originally a Methodist, while he was at university he was drawn into the life of the Church of England through singing in Chapel choirs.

He said: “The plan was to join the Army as a musician, but soon I felt a sense of vocation to the Sacred Priesthood. With that in mind, I decided to follow where God seemed to be leading me and, after graduation, I worked as a Pastoral Assistant for a year in Central London and then in Newcastle. I trained for ordained ministry at St. Stephen’s House, Oxford, and am currently serving my Title in the parish of Auckland St Helen.”

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