St Boniface 2022 Award Winners

Betty Harris

St Michael’s Church, Shute

Betty has faithfully served in St Michael’s Shute over many years in her role of Sacristan*, alongside other positions.  At 88 years old, she did not let Covid restrictions or a two-year vacancy stop her eagerness to serve her church.  Betty was particularly helpful in welcoming the Rev’d Julie Lomas to St Michael’s and supported her in re-instating the monthly Holy Communion service. St Michael’s Church has valued Betty’s quiet reliability, knowledge and experience of the liturgical seasons. Rev’d Lomas, said, “Her quiet, consistent and faithful service as sacristan is underpinned by her real and deep faith in God, which shines through her actions.”

*A sacristan is a church officer in charge of the sacred vessels and vestments in a church (for example, the cup for communion)

Chris Forster

Brixham Baptist Church and Transforming Plymouth Together

As the Development Worker and Strategic Lead for Transforming Plymouth Together (a joint venture between the Church Urban Fund and the Diocese of Exeter), Chris worked tirelessly to help tackle poverty and inequality in Plymouth. Under his leadership, the Transforming Plymouth Together team have supported Plymouth’s churches in their efforts to tackle social isolation, food poverty, modern slavery, community cohesion, dementia and loneliness. Thanks to the hard work and innovation of Chris and his team, this work was able to continue and grow despite the pandemic. David Manners, his former colleague, said, “Chris’s passion for the poor and socially isolated, and his commitment to furthering the Kingdom of God through his work with churches and the voluntary sector, has seen links developed that have brought together many different groups and organisations and which in turn have seen support networks flourish in some of the most deprived areas of Plymouth and beyond.”

Christoper Braund

St. Anne’s, Bucks Mills Church

Christopher is currently a Churchwarden at St Anne’s Church in Bucks Mills, fulfilling his duties in an exceptional manor, however his commitment and activities far exceed what might be expected of him. Christopher has promoted an interest in St Anne’s and its history in various ways; by giving guided tours of the church and village, along with giving talks about the church’s previous worshippers. St Anne’s was once threatened with closure, and Christopher fought to prevent this. Dr Janet Mary Few, friend of Christopher’s, praised “the determination that there will continue to be a church presence in Bucks Mills, despite the difficulties faced. This is a church with no water supply and no toilet facilities, which limits the ways in which the church can be used and the opportunities for bringing the community in to the church. Despite this, Chris has done all he can to involve the wider community in the church. It is fair to say that, without Chris’ efforts, there may not still be a church in Bucks Mills.”

Claire Nicholls

St Mary’s Church, Uffculme

Claire is a Community Outreach Worker who works alongside those in the community. She works hard to develop opportunities for people to rebuild and strengthen relationships, rebuild links with churches, experience the love of God and explore their faith. Claire works closely with children and their families, being involved in areas of ministry such as primary school lunch clubs, toddler groups, pre-school sessions and seasonal events. Alongside this, Claire has helped to develop the churches’ social media presence; from making YouTube videos, sharing photos of the community and creating Christmas posts to help increase presence in the wider community. Sarah Rock-Evans, said, “Claire has provided lots of ways for children and the wider community to engage with faith in creative, accessible ways. She is very well regarded in her community as someone who listens without judgement and shows compassion to people.”

Diane Coombes

The Cathedral Church of St Peter, Exeter

Diane has faithfully served the Cathedral and the wider Church for many years. Diane is an active member of the Cathedral Pastoral Care Group, the Healing Prayer Group and the Contemplative Prayer Group. She is also assists at services in  the Cathedral, and is active in its Social Committee.  Diane represents the Cathedral on the Deanery Synod, has worked many years as a prison visitor, is an active member of Churches Together in Exeter (CTAX) and also coordinates contact with Devon’s church Mission Communities as they appear on the Diocesan Prayer Cycle. The Venerable David Gunn-Johnson, said, “Her complete commitment to the mission and ministry of the Cathedral, her pastoral care for others, the way in which she has touched so many lives, both of serving clergy and lay ministers, her deep understanding of the human condition all of these things add up to a very special lady whose life and witness is worthy of commendation.”

Grace Davie

St James Church, Exeter

Grace Davie, an Exeter University graduate, is an internationally renowned scholar for her work on the sociology of religion. Grace also has a heart for the Exeter church communities. She was a Trustee of St Luke’s College Foundation for 25 years, and for 11 of those she was its Chair. The Foundation is responsible for St Luke’s Chapel at the University of Exeter and for the Anglican Chaplaincy across the university. In her role as Chair, Grace played a key part in the project to re-develop St Luke’s Chapel so that it better suited the needs of the Chaplaincy.  Dr David Benzie, said, “Grace is a ‘people person’. She listens carefully and then responds with great kindness and insight. As a consequence, the things she says and does affirm others and give them confidence to step forward. It is never about her.”

Graham Davies

Graham is the Director of Property services at the Diocese of Exeter, managing an exceptional team who go above and beyond for both the clergy of the Diocese and Devon’s Church of England schools. The Housing Team that he manages ensures clergy homes are places where ministry can safely and comfortably take place. The pandemic has caused Graham to redefine his way of working, whilst also showing pastoral sensitivity to difficult situations. Graham is described by those who know him and work with him as dedicated to his work, generous and someone with a deep humility. The Venerable Andrew Beane, said, “I am sure that Graham could be managing his own property portfolio, yet he chooses to manage the Diocese’s.  He brings expertise, professionalism and extensive knowledge to the boards and committees he serves.”

Jackie Edwards

St Michael’s Church, Kingsteignton

Jackie Edwards is the fundraising force behind Devon Historic Churches Trust, even taking part in her own sponsored cycle at the age of 70. Jackie also is the Parish Safeguarding Officer for her church. She’s active on the PCC, organises flower arranging and set up a local bereavement group. The Rev’d Dr Mark Smith, of St Michael’s Church, Kingsteignton, said “Jackie is the life and soul of any party, as Kingsteignton Town Crier she is anything but quiet, and is well known throughout the town; if you want anything done, she’s your woman.” Her support of the Vicar, Assistant Vicar, church wardens and others has been noted as ‘unfailing, caring and practical’. Jackie is the first to volunteer, and will go out of her way to help and show love to others. Mark said, “Jackie is one of the brightest lights that the Mission Community has in the community, she portrays her faith as vital and fun to the people she meets and sows seeds wherever she goes.”

Jeannette ‘Nettie’ Eden

Emmanuel Church, Plymouth

Jeannette, often known by ‘Nettie’, is the Administrator at Emmanuel Church, Plymouth. She is the first person people see when making contact with the church, and she welcomes each of them with love and kindness. During the pandemic, Jeanette ensured the congregation were supported and connected; she routinely phoned every member of the church phone directory to check they were OK. She has also supported isolated or elderly members in being able to access online services through a computer-linked telephone machine. Jeannette also faithfully serves by volunteering in a catering role for church socials, providing Christmas Day lunch in church at her own expense and caring for an elderly member of the congregation. The Rev’d Tony Williams, Associate Vicar at Emmanuel church, said “She does everything with huge Christian love and compassion and great enthusiasm, with constant patience and kindness for everyone who comes into her office, no matter who they are and how inconvenient their presence might be.”

Judith Taylor

St George & St Paul’s Church, Tiverton

Judith Taylor helps to organise, run and deliver the weekly ‘Lunch on the Go’ ministry at St George and St Paul’s Church in Tiverton. Lunch on the Go is an opportunity for people in the community to eat together and have conversations. Judith is at the heart of the ministry, overseeing the food preparation team and reaching out to the attendees. From the success of Lunch on the Go, she has recently set up a new initiative called ‘Big Table’ with the aim of teaching people to cook nutritious meals on a budget. Attendees are shown how to shop, prep and cook, and then the meal is enjoyed. Judith shows leadership, team-work, creativity, practical evangelism and a love for the marginalised through her ministry. The Rev’d Andy Humm, Vicar at St George and St Paul’s, said, “Through Judith’s faith, leadership and example, men and woman outside the church have experienced faith through food and conversation and been given a view of what the church should look like.”

Kathleen Green

St David’s Church, Ashprington

Kathleen Green is the Church Treasurer at St David’s Church, Ashprington. Alongside her treasury role, Kathleen has worked on the restoration of the church building for over 20 years, even gaining noticeable skills in white-washing walls, lime plastering and cleaning delicate monuments. Over the past seven years, Kathleen has been a Prayer Pastor with the Totnes Street Pastors, and she has also been a member of Deanery Synod for several years. For the past fourteen years, she has been the editor of the church-based monthly Parish Magazine, with 450 copies going out to households in the parishes of Ashprington, Cornworthy and Dittisham. Kathleen also introduced Open-the-Book in her area (a project to share Bible stories in primary schools through drama), and made a range of props so she could act and read stories at local schools. Laurence Green, Kathleen’s husband, said, “She has exercised restraint and sound decision-making in her long term contributions to the life of St David’s Church and has been a very good witness of God’s love in the parish and outside.”

Marcia Knight

St Mary’s Church, Plympton

Marcia has faithfully served the community of Plympton in many ways, but two noticeable examples are her work with the Scouts and within the local church.  Marcia has been organising table-top sales and jumble sales for both organisations for 27 years. This involves Marcia and her husband being at the church hall the first Friday of each month putting up trestle tables and chairs, ready for the stallholders on Saturday. Pat Ridgway, a friend of Marcia, said, “The friendships that have evolved around the people hiring the table-tops on Saturday mornings are palpable and a joy to see and hear.” Marcia also helps to organise Spring Fairs for both the Scouts and the Church, and serves at the local Food Bank. Alongside this, Marcia is also the Treasurer and a committee member of Plympton Community Council.

Pamela Holley

St Peter’s Church, Uplowman

Pamela is the Churchwarden and is known for faithfully serving her church and local area with joy. She is affectionately known as “Mrs Uplowman” by locals due to her being instrumental in the success of so many projects that have given the Uplowman community a warm, caring reputation. Stephanie Packham, her fellow Churchwarden, said “She is a real motivator, a roll up your sleeves energiser and a creative innovator, but her most precious gift is the way she does this with such generosity of spirit – she is quite simply a true pastoral champion.” Pamela is responsible for many things, from being the Chair of the local Women’s Institute, caring for the church building, volunteering for projects and helping with local events. She also works passionately to keep the church at the heart of the village and is happy to chat to anyone about faith. Stephanie said, “For Pam, it’s all about building relationships and taking the time to walk alongside others. When you meet her, you can’t help but feel how special she is. If only every village had a Pam – how much more supportive of each other we would be.”

Scott McJohnston

St Andrew’s Church, Cullompton

Scott McJohnston is passionate about serving others in need, motivated by his own experience and his Christian faith. He was once homeless himself and contemplated suicide “before God found him and turned his life around”. One area of his ministry is Keystone at St Andrew’s Cullompton, where Scott began as a volunteer and is now a part-time salaried worker. Scott works alongside those with addiction issues, long term unemployment, health and mental health and socialisation challenges and any other barriers individuals face that prevent them working or taking part in community life. Alongside his work for Keystone, Scott established Bread of Life, now a registered charity, which serves and feeds homeless people in Exeter. Rev’d Edward Hobbs, from St Andrew’s Church Cullompton, said “There are quite literally hundreds of people whose lives have been impacted directly by Scott and the ministries that he coordinates, as well as his impact and influence in shaping the heart of our local church.”

Susannah Grace Hardy

St George & St Paul’s Tiverton

Susannah is 13 years old, and is the eldest of eight children being home-schooled by her Mum. Since the pandemic, she has been an instrumental part in the set-up and weekly running of an outreach programme called “Breakfast on the Go” which serves breakfast to eighty children and their parents each week. The initiative has created a space that helps people to feel safe and welcome. Susannah has been able to help each week, often being the first to turn-up and the last to leave. She is an integral part of the ministry, now training other volunteers to serve families with joy and enthusiasm. Jonathan Schnarr, Tiverton Youth Minister, said, “The continued success of Breakfast on the Go is partially down to Susannah’s incredible passion, servant-heartedness and enthusiasm, which is displayed every single week, no matter rain, storm or sunshine!” Alongside her involvement at Breakfast on the Go, Susannah is also a young leader at Fusion, a weekly kids club, and at the church’s Sunday School. Jonathan said, “She is consistently giving up her time to serve others and motivates people around her with her kindness, compassion and joy.”

Valerie Hoare

St John the Baptist, Littlehempston

Valerie is Church Warden at St John the Baptist in Littlehempston. Valerie is known amongst the church team to be the first to get her toolbox out to do whatever job she can; recently she even got on the top of the church roof to mend a flag that had been damaged in a storm! Valerie cares deeply for the church congregation and her wider community, from visiting the sick and vulnerable to driving to Paignton to bring a 95-year-old worshiper. She has raised thousands of pounds for charity, including for St John the Baptist, by doing sponsored walks and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Her friend, Elizabeth Miller, said, “Some years ago there was a heavy snowfall at Christmas.  At the time, Val worked as a pharmacist at Boots in Buckfastleigh.  She and a friend delivered essential medication for those who needed drugs as part of their end-of-life care. She did this all around Buckfastleigh on foot.  After she had completed this, her husband collected her with his tractor and trailer. We would all have felt she was entitled to a well-earned rest.  In fact, they then both went on and gritted the lanes in Littlehempston so that we could all move freely!”