Brancaster and surrounding villages have a new minister, 10 months after the previous incumbent left.
On Monday, Susan Bowden-Pickstock will be instituted by the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham Hames, in Hunstanton parish church.
She is now the new rector of the Saxon Shore Benefice of Old Hunstanton, Holme-next-the-Sea, Thornham, Titchwell, Brancaster, Burnham Deepdale and Choseley, she and her family having already moved into The Rectory at Brancaster.
She is no stranger to Norfolk coast having spent many holidays in the area. “My children grew up playing on Brancaster beach,” she said.
She spent her formative years in a small East Anglian village. “Our village was so small there was no road out, only a farm track. We had a castle, a church, a manor house and a farm – we were a typical English village.”
A non-religious family, she was occasionally sent to Sunday School. “But from the time I was a very small child there was an understanding that God was there, that there was a relationship,” she said.
She became the first member of her family to go to university, where she gained a degree in English Literature.
She then spent three years qualifying as a nurse at London’s Guy’s Hospital and spent the next 10 years at Papworth and Addenbrooke’s hospitals and working in GP’s surgeries.
She met her husband, Phillip, a financial adviser, at the end of her medical training, and they now have four children, three boys and a girl.
“Because of the shift work life got complicated,” she said, “so I became a volunteer working with a faith team for Radio Cambridgeshire.”
After an eight-year ‘apprenticeship’ she was given the job of producing the programme for several years before she realised that ordained ministry was the way ahead.
Three years at Ridley Hall theological college in Cambridge, involving pastoral and communication training, led to a curacy in Cambridge and from there to Brancaster.
The Rev Bowden-Pickstock was ordained a pioneer minister. “It’s a new form of training which involves a deeper, more imaginative involvement with community organisations and schools”, she said.
“I came to visit before my interview and met some lovely people and I know I am going to enjoy it here. I’ve had a rich and varied life and I am excited about putting down roots here.”
The previous rector, the Rev Christopher Wood, left to take up a new post in Norwich. In the meantime, the curate, Rev James Monro, assumed responsibility for the parishes.