AN ESSEX vicar got more than he bargained for when he joked to a local-newspaper reporter that his New Year resolution was to get married.
The Wanstead and Woodford Guardian promptly ran an article seeking to find a wife for the Revd Robert Hampson (aged 49), Vicar of Holy Trinity, Hermon Hill (pictured, above). Mr Hampson’s profile, displayed on the paper’s website, describes him as enjoying cooking, horse-riding, and painting with oils, as well as “sitting in cafés and being with friends. I hate being on my own.”
“The reporter was clearly looking for a funny answer. I opened my big trap and got myself into all this as a result. But the results so far are not bad,” said Mr Hampson on Tuesday. He was not prepared to say more. He reflected: “It’s early days. The local paper are going to pay for me to have a blind date at a restaurant on Valentine’s Day. I’m putting the sort of trust in the local paper that one normally puts in God. . .”
Since the story caught the attention of the national media, he has been thrust into the spotlight. He concedes, however: “It’s a dating agency at a fraction of the cost.”
Clerics find it difficult to meet soulmates, Mr Hampson says. “I’ve certainly found it much more difficult to meet suitable people since I’ve been a priest. When you become associated with the area that you’re living and working in, and of which you get very fond, the people you’re with are never quite your friends. You are always the parish priest.”
The strongest quality he looks for in a wife is a sense of humour, coupled with compassion and a love of people.