CAPTION: The new Companions of St Boniface received their medals during a service at Exeter Cathedral

St Boniface Awards Highlight Work to Help People in Need in Devon

Posted: 26th July, 2022

Christians helping those in need during the cost-of-living crisis are among this year’s recipients of the Diocese of Exeter’s St Boniface Award.

They include Scott McJohnston, who runs a homeless outreach charity after himself experiencing homelessness and Judith Taylor, who runs an initiative to help people learn to cook on a budget.

The new companions being awarded their medals by Bishop Robert

The St Boniface awards aims to honour people in Devon who have gone above and beyond to serve their church, community or church school with joy.

Recipients are nominated by church members and this year 16 were chosen to become Companions of the Order of St Boniface.

They were presented with their medals at a service at Exeter Cathedral on Saturday 23 July.

It was led by the Bishop of Exeter, the Rt Rev’d Robert Atwell, who described the winners as “People of Devon who have made a difference by serving people with joy.”

Scott McJohnston received a St Boniface award for his Keystone and Bread of Life ministries

During the service, Scott McJohnston, described how he had come to faith after ending-up living on the streets and contemplating suicide following a relationship breakdown. He told BBC Radio Devon that his sister encouraged him to pray as “he had nothing to lose”. He said that moments later he had a tangible sign “that God was real”.

“I felt a shock and an overwhelming sense of relief that I wasn’t doing this on my own. I had a sense of security and a sense of relief,” he added.

Scott found support and a welcome at St Andrew’s Church Cullompton, where he now helps to run the Keystone project, working alongside those with addiction issues, long term unemployment, health and mental health and socialisation challenges

Scott has also established Bread of Life, a registered charity which serves and feeds homeless people in Exeter. Scott said of his St Boniface award: “The medal wasn’t just for me, it was for all those people who make what I do possible.”

Judith Taylor was awarded for her love for the marginalised in the community

Judith Taylor helps to organise, run and deliver a weekly ‘Lunch on the Go’ ministry at St George and St Paul’s Church in Tiverton. The ministry is an opportunity for people in the community to eat together, and have conversations. Following the success of Lunch on the Go, she recently set up a new initiative called ‘Big Table’, which teaches people to cook on a budget.

Judith was nominated for a St Boniface award for her leadership, team-work, creativity, practical evangelism and love for the marginalised through her ministry. Talking about her work, Judith said  “if we have love, we want to give that back.”

Clare Nicholls became a companion of St Boniface for her outreach community work.

Clare Nichols, another new companion of the company of St Boniface, received her award for her work as a Community Outreach Worker in the Culme Valley Mission Community. She works hard to develop opportunities for people to build and strengthen relationships, form links with churches, experience the love of God and explore their faith.

She said, “It was a real surprise and a privilege to be nominated.” Clare also praised the people she works with, saying, “You can’t do this on your own. I’m part of the bigger team and I’m really grateful for the wider team, whether that’s church or community.”

The youngest recipient of an award was 13-year-old Susannah Grace Hardy who was honoured for her work helping with the “Breakfast on the Go” outreach in Tiverton, which provides breakfast to 80 children and their families each week.

Jon Curtis, the Lay Discipleship Project Manager for the Diocese of Exeter, interviewed a number of the award winners during the service and said afterwards, “It’s so important that as a Diocese we recognise all the many ways that the members of our churches are serving the Kingdom of God in our county.

“It was a real privilege to hear these stories and meet these people, whom we know are just the tip of the iceberg throughout our church. We thank God for everyone who is called to work in all these ways.”

The new companions sharing their stories of serving people of Devon with joy

The other recipients of an award were: Betty Harris, Chris Forster, Christopher Braund, Claire Nichols, Diane Coombes, Grace Davie, Graham Davies, Jackie Edwards, Jeanette Eden, Judith Taylor, Kathleen Green, Marcia Knight, Pamela Holley, Scott McJohnston, Susannah Grace Hardy, Valerie Hoare. You can read all of their biographies here.