St Boniface 2021 Award Winners

Aileen Badcock

St Swithun’s Church, Littleham, Bideford

Aileen was instrumental in the survival of St Swithun’s Church in the 1950s, when at one point she was the sole remaining member of the congregation and the vicar had cut off the bell ropes, shut off the power, locked the door and disappeared! Thanks to Aileen’s encouragement and the hard work off the Churchwardens, the PCC and the community, the badly dilapidated church was restored and is now thriving “due in large part to her understated leadership”. Aileen has been a churchwarden for over 30 years, she was PCC secretary for 20 years and singlehandedly ran the Sunday School for 20 years. During the pandemic she encouraged parishioners to try out the new telephone services and ensured the church stayed open when possible. The Rev’d Marisa Cockfield, says “Aileen is greatly loved by her community. She inspires us to love each other and to work for God, I cannot think of a more worthy recipient.”

Annie Jefferies

St Peter’s, Lamerton

Annie has worked tirelessly to build close links between St Peter’s church and the local school, leading collective worship and helping with a monthly church service in which school pupils take part.  Annie has also been a good friend to Venn House care home, organising special Remembrance, Christmas, Valentines and Easter visits, which involved dressing-up and playing songs outside the window for residents to dance along to and giving them themed gift bags. Annie is developing a network of Anna Chaplains across Devon to offer pastoral support to people in later life. She is chair of the House of Laity for Exeter Diocesan Synod. Rev’d Andy Atkins, says “Annie is not only an excellent strategical thinker, but someone who will roll up their sleeves to do the work needed, a very rare person.”

Ben Slater

St Michael and All Angels, Pinhoe, Exeter

Ben has delivered mental health first aid training across the diocese since 2020. He significantly reduced the cost of his training to allow as many people as possible to take part. He was previously a principal of secondary academies for excluded children. Ben has helped craft the diocese’s guidance about how to engage with people with mental health challenges. He is also now co-chairing a new support group for clergy partners and families. Chris Keppie, Diocese of Exeter Church and Society Officer, said “Ben’s generosity, both financial and of time and energy, are outstanding. His heart for practical and informed application of loving service of our most vulnerable neighbours, in God’s name, is very apparent and inspiring.”

Corrinne Shutt

St Mary’s, Walkhampton

Corinne is a major player within the 6 churches which make up the West Dartmoor Mission Community. She is a PCC Secretary, Deanery Rep, Worship Team leader and a Champing (camping in churches) Administrator. She devised and runs Nosh@9.30, a monthly family service and runs after school clubs. She leads the Open the Book team (a programme to share Bible stories in primary schools) at Lady Modiford’s School and Meavy School. Corinne loves baking and has long run a home baking stall at the Saturday market in Walkhampton, as well as helping out in the village hall coffee shop. She has introduced Fairtrade and eco-friendly products at St Mary’s. She leads worship creatively, embracing modern technology and introducing it to others. Corinne supports the church foodbank and is involved with fundraising for local youthwork, homeless projects and the Diocese of Thika in Kenya. Churchwarden, Richard Bryn, says “Corinne has an inner joy and generosity of spirit. She shows determination and zeal in all she does and is passionate about social fairness and justice. She is enthusiastic, practical and an inspiration to others.”

David Curry

S.E.A. Church (St Aiden’s, Ernesettle, Plymouth)

David is the lead Environment Advisor in the Diocese, a role he carries out “with great energy, expertise and loving commitment to God and creation.” His particular interest is in biodiversity conservation. He has ensured that the crisis of species loss is on the Church’s environmental agenda at both a local and national level. He has written practical guidance notes on how to have a ‘living churchyard’ attracting wildlife and diverse plant life. He also offers bespoke advice to churches. David is a long-standing member of the Christian conservation charity Arocha, chair of Devon Green Churches Action and a member of the Church of England’s National Biodiversity Group. He also works with organisations like CPRE Devon and the Devon Wildlife Trust to show the commitment of the Church to environmental issues. Chris Keppie, Church and Society Officer, says “David makes a significant difference across the diocese by innovating and leading new projects. The primary beneficiaries have been our other sisters and brothers (in St Francis’s words) from other species.”

Hannah Fleming-Hill

St Judes, Plymouth

Until recently Hannah was the Project Support Development Worker for Transforming Plymouth Together (a joint Diocese of Exeter and Church Urban Fund project). In her role Hannah worked hard to develop the Feast of Fun school holiday programme. During the pandemic it became Feast of Fun at Home to keep supporting vulnerable families. During lockdown TPT engaged with hundreds of families to provide ongoing food parcels, many of the parcels were delivered by Hannah herself. In total TPT delivered nearly 90,000 meals and supported churches in building relationships with the families. Many of these families would have gone throughout lockdown without much or any support. Hannah is also passionate about encouraging the church to connect with those in their 20s and 30s. She has become a digital missioner, advising and supporting churches to improve their digital presence and mission in a way that is forward-thinking and innovative. Hannah fulfils her work beyond the call of duty and does so with “creativity, joy and an attitude of sacrificial service.” One of her nominators said “you will never meet a more kind-hearted individual than Hannah.”

Jennie McNulty

St Mary Magdalene, Torquay

Jenny has done “outstanding work” for the homeless community of Torquay as a support worker and now co-manager of the Leonard Stocks Hostel. It is not uncommon for people to describe Jenny as “an angel”. Her curate, Rev’d Emma Dornan, says “Her gentle spirit and welcoming heart have helped us build bridges and become more welcoming to people facing homelessness and addiction in our area.” Jennie has helped people who have come out of recovery find employment. Through her, members of the church have become involved at the hostel and with the homeless community. Her willingness to serve has included doing the unsanitary jobs no-one else wants to do – including removing socks from gangrenous feet and clearing blocked and overflowing toilets. Emma says, “Jennie has a gigantic heart, and a bigger capacity for loving, joy-filled service than most people I’ve met. She has changed so many people’s lives for the better. She does it for Jesus and His Church.”

Joanna Bound

St Budeux, Plymouth

Joanna is the Care Home Champion for Plymouth on behalf of Churches Together in Plymouth. She is also their former chaplain and a Licensed Lay Minister (Reader). Joanna’s ministry involves working with the elderly and those living with dementia. She is involved with the Anna Chaplaincy Initiative, which seeks to provide aid, help and comfort at a low point in someone’s life. She is now helping to roll this project out across Plymouth and Devon. Julian Payne, the Lay Chair of Plymouth Deanery, says “Joanna is one very special person who is prepared to commit immense time and energy to the elderly and vulnerable in society. The attitude she has shown over the years I have known her, has been to me and others, an encouragement to commit ourselves to the areas she shines in.”

Katie Freeman

Emmanuel Church, Plymouth

Katie has been nominated for services to Religious Education. She is the new Chair of the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE), the first time in 18 years a primary school teacher and early years specialist has been chosen for the role.  She has spoken about the importance of religious education in parliament and at national conferences. She is a member of the Church of England RE Working Group, helping to shape national RE policy. Derek Holloway, a member of the group, says “She is excellent, bringing cutting-edge RE classroom practice.” Katie supports over 40 RE teachers across Plymouth and beyond as the RE hub leader for the city. The Rev’d Tatiana Wilson, from the diocese Education Department, says “Katie’s passion for the subject is contagious. She is very generous in sharing her expertise and skilling others to become better teachers of Religious Education, not just locally in Plymouth, but also regionally and nationally.”

Lizzy Flaherty

Holsworthy Parish Church

Lizzy, 18, is a member of the serving team and the PCC at Holsworthy Parish Church. She was the sole volunteer to prepare and clean the church so it could reopen after the first lockdown. Due to the age or health of most of the congregation, Lizzy became sacristan, verger and the only welcomer when the church first opened for services. Lizzy continues this work and sets-up for services, including funerals, plays recorded music during services and has led Morning Prayer when the rector has had a Sunday off. Lizzy has continued her voluntary duties whilst home from university and also volunteers for the Holsworthy Covid 19 Mutual Aid phone helpline. Lizzy’s rector, Mother Elizabeth Burke, says “Lizzy’s thoughtfulness, diligence and dedication meant that the church could be open for individual prayer and for services during the pandemic. Lizzy’s aptitude and reliability has ensured worship runs smoothly. She is unassuming and a joy to work with, always putting others first. She has no idea just how much of a contribution she has made to the whole community during such a difficult time.”

Melanie Whitehead

St Andrew’s, Cullompton

Melanie leads the People Matter Foodbank, which is linked to St Andrew’s Church in Cullompton. During the pandemic she grew the team of volunteers to keep this vital service open, as well as dealing with all the logistical, legal and health and Covid-security requirements. The number of clients being served increased between 400 and 500%. Even when the church building has been closed the foodbank has always remained open. Melanie’s vicar, Rev’d Ed Hobbs, says “Melanie has worked really hard to keep this vital service running, finding solutions when, at times, it looked as though it may not have been possible to continue. She has done all of this whilst continuing to work part-time and recovering from cancer.”

Phil Smith

St Mary the Virgin, Plympton

Phil Smith co-founded the Plympton Foodbank run by the Plympton Team Ministry at the start of the first lockdown, securing grant funding and built a team of volunteers.  Parishioner Patricia Ridgway says, “It has gone from strength to strength and Phil has reached out to many lonely and desperate people.” Headteacher, Suzie Ottwell, says “His work has inspired many people, including children, to give up their time to this charitable cause.” Phil has also built the church’s online presence, facilitating church services and meetings on Zoom, something “so many members of the congregation would be lost without”. As churchwarden he has overseen the creation of a new church hall community garden. He is known for his cheerfulness. The Rev’d Robert Harris says, “Phil is a real example of someone who ‘serves the people of Devon with joy’. He has undertaken all that he has done in the past year with passion, enthusiasm, and commitment. He has spent many hours each week carrying out these tasks as he lives out his faith and mission.”

Roger Grose

St Peter and St Paul, Uplyme

When the church was in vacancy for 19 months, Roger (a Licensed Lay Minister/Reader) planned and lead worship, lead services, preached and played the organ at St Peter and St Paul’s and Axmouth church. He organised all the rotas and led crucial planning meetings for the lay leaders. During the pandemic he started a weekly telephone church service for people unable to access online services. His friend David Jones says, “This is being regularly accessed and enjoyed by many of our elderly evening congregation, for whom, prior to lockdown, the evening service was probably the highlight of their week and possibly their only regular social interaction.” Roger also started a family service, “Church at Ten”, and arranges and rehearses large and small choirs for festivals and onsite and online services (which are shared between all 8 churches in the Axe Valley Mission Community). Roger is also responsible for pastoral care in Uplyme Church. As David Jones says, “Roger has been the glue holding the church family together. It is clear to all who know him that his aim in life is to do his best to further God’s Kingdom here on earth.”

Sharon Marshall

St Mary’s, Pilton, Barnstaple

Sharon has recently retired as the Headteacher of Ilfracombe Academy.  She was instrumental in the school moving from a community secondary school to a Church of England school and taking on Church school articles within St Christopher’s Secondary Multi Academy Trust.  The school is now flourishing with very strong links to the local church and the Diocese. Every year group at the school now has one of the local clergy serving as a chaplain. There is also a Christian youth worker. Sharon has displayed an outstanding commitment to the wider community, deeply rooted in her own faith and her desire to serve the people of North Devon with joy. She has worked tirelessly to create opportunities and to change outcomes for young people in a community which bears all the hallmarks of rural isolation and deprivation. Sue Lockwood, Exeter Diocese Acting Director of Education, says “Through Sharon’s inspirational leadership of Ilfracombe Academy, local community aspirations and engagement have changed. Sixth form students have gained places at Oxbridge and Russell Group universities. Strong links have been developed with local businesses increasing opportunities for vocational education and employment.” Since retiring, Sharon has become a member of the Diocesan School Organisation and Governance Group, the Exeter Diocesan Board of Education and other local education bodies.  Sue Lockwood says, “Sharon is an outstanding educational practitioner… full of integrity, a sense of justice and, above all, a belief that each of us is a child of God to be valued and supported.”

Sue Croft

St Mary Magdalene, Chumleigh

Sue is a churchwarden and was at the forefront of the community pandemic response in Chumleigh, despite being extremely vulnerable and shielding herself. She quickly established a support system using her links in local government, the school, church and health centre. She built up a telephone contact system and bank of volunteers. Services provided included shopping, dog-walking, transport, prescription deliveries and telephone support. The volunteers also delivered 70 Christmas gifts to people who were self-isolating. Sue is the main co-ordinator and first point of contact for all these services. Her Team Rector, Rev’d Tony Rockey, says “Sue’s identification of the need, quick response in setting up a support system and ongoing dedication to serving the people of Chumleigh and beyond, has brought the service of the church and members of the local community to the fore in this time of need.” He added, “Sue has enabled all who have requested help to feel valued and supported. She is the human, caring face of the help offered, as such, she has been able to represent what is best in our church to those around us.”

Toby Grier

Exeter Network Church, Exeter

Toby, 17, has been proactive in volunteering for a range of church and secular organisations focusing on food poverty, fair trade issues and the environment. He has volunteered with Chris Keppie, Diocese of Exeter Church and Society Officer, to create an interactive google map of foodbanks across Devon on the diocese website, to enable support agencies and people who need support to find out where they can get help. He has a passion for social and environmental justice and has done voluntary work for Devon Development Education, helping the organisation develop its social media and online presence, also providing editorial content himself. His work was particularly appreciated during Fairtrade Fortnight. Chris Keppie says, “His presentation on Guyana seemed to create the online equivalent of a standing ovation; subsequent chat reflected on the refreshing value of a younger voice, and desire for more of the same. I hope it also brought new energy to long-term campaigners.” Despite being a full-time Sixth Form student, Toby has given significant time to church-related activities – as well as to his own church – with amazing reliability, responsiveness to requests, and consistently going beyond what has been asked of him. Chris says, “Toby’s contributions clearly come from a heart of love and passion for justice that is infectious and inspiring.”