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From store to island

21 September 2012

IT WAS the advertisement for two Team Vicars which caught the eye of the Revd Peter Mallinson when he was thinking about moving into stipendiary ministry. The advertisement was for the huge parish of Canvey Island, in Chelmsford diocese, with a population of 44,000, and three churches.

Mr Mallinson and his wife, Fiona, walked around the parish anonymously, and were struck by the friendliness of everybody they met. Many of them are second and third-generation East-Enders, he told me, "still with the East End fighting spirit of the war years". He was very happy to be appointed, together with the Revd Marion Walford (they are pictured together), who was born on Canvey Island.

Mr Mallinson had always wanted to be a priest, he said. At one time, he was employed as a verger in St Albans Abbey, and came under the influence of Robert Runcie, who was Bishop at that time. He then went to work for Sainsbury's as a legal compliance officer.

It was during his time there that he was ordained, and started to wear his clerical collar at work, at times with the agreement of the management, occasionally not. But he was regarded as a padre by the staff, and came to represent them on various councils.

"I always stuck to my principles of telling the truth," he told me, whether it meant telling management they were wrong, or saying the same to the staff. It was often difficult. But his knowledge of the working world will stand him in good stead in his new parish.


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