Watch Out, Watch Out, There’s a Rev About!

Posted by Admin on Wednesday, 27th March 2013, 00:26

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At the Licensing of our new Minister, Bishop Christopher said, “At this point, it is normal for me to say a few words about your new priest – in Amanda’s case, her achievements cannot be described in a few words”.

What could he mean? Only one way to find out, go and have a chat with her.

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Amanda told me that she was born and brought up in Portsmouth; the family still live in Gosport. After school and A levels, which included Spanish, she attended Bedfordshire University, at the Luton campus. She read psychology and business studies and on graduating she entered the navy as an officer recruit; her initial training was at Dartmouth and her first ship was HMS Beaver, a Type 22 frigate. At an early stage in her career, she was selected to become an exchange officer with the Spanish Navy. She flew out to Bangkok and joined the Juan Sebastian de Elcano, a training ship, the 3rd largest tall ship in the world. With a complement of 500 she was one of just two women on board; she acted as Interpreter and English teacher. Later she served on HMS Invincible and HMS Fearless. She recalled one day on Fearless, “We were coming home”, she told me, “passing through the Greek Islands, when all of a sudden senior officers were running about – senior officers just don’t do that”. It was 9/11 and a deployment due to last 47 days lasted nine months. In Portsmouth, she played in and managed the Royal Navy Women’s Cricket team and managed the Combined Services Women’s team. I doubt if Amanda could ever imagine, when she was leaving on a deployment down the Western Solent, that she was passing one of her future parishes.

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She began working in the community for the Diocese and became more and more involved, becoming a secret worshipper, visiting churches to see if the congregation’s needs were being met. A friend invited her to an event for leaders at Portsmouth Catholic Cathedral; she didn’t want to go, but relented. She sat quietly at the back, and got talking to the man sitting next to her. The Chaplains gathered at the front of the congregation and introduced the speaker, a leading evangelical preacher. It was the man she had been sat next to. “I was so embarrassed,” she told me, “but for the next twenty minutes, everything he said was aimed at me”. It was in 2005 that Amanda applied to become a priest, turning up for her first interview in full combat gear, as she was just back off exercise and had no time to change.
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She entered Ripon College at Cuddesdon, attached to Oxford University in 2007. At the end of two years, she became a curate at Catherington and Clanfield, two villages south of Petersfield and in the Havant Deanery. It was in 2006 that she met husband James, on a blind date, although their paths had crossed before, as he was in the RNR. They have two children, Jacob 2½ and Samuel 11 months.
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The Bishop was right to list many of Amanda’s achievements, but that’s not the end of the story. If in the coming weeks, with Spring here and you are walking around the parishes, keep your eyes open for a black, red and chrome motorbike, the rider will be dressed in black with a white dog collar. Give her a wave, it will be Amanda out and about, meeting people, on her Yamaha Virago – she had her first Honda when she was just 16!
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Chris Riddet

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