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UK >

Enthroned, first, at Northern Echo

Madeleine Davies

by Madeleine Davies

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 @ 12:18

BEFORE being enthroned in Canterbury Cathedral in two months' time, the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Justin Welby, has agreed to occupy another chair: that of the editor of The Northern Echo.

Bishop Welby was invited to guest-edit the newspaper last Friday, to mark the first anniversary of the Darlington Foundation for Jobs, a joint initiative to tackle youth unemployment, led by The Northern Echo and Darlington Borough Council. He is patron of the scheme.

"The success it has achieved in breaking all of its targets is a testament to the passion of the people of the North East," he said on Friday. "Getting young people into work, and equipping them with the skills needed to grow the local economy, is the way that communities and economies can move from strength to strength." He would like to see the scheme "replicated widely".

In a leader comment for the newspaper, Bishop Welby said that he would "go on pushing" for the area. The allocation of construction funds by the Government was "grossly unequal", he said, and the North-East was getting the smallest share.

In addition to his editorial duties, Bishop Welby visited the Darlington plant of the engineering company Cummins, where he addressed school children. He had been told that he "wasn't even bright enough for a career in engineering", but he realised, while working in the oil industry, that "the brightest people were the engineers.

"One of the things I am hearing about this area is that lots of people can't get jobs, but I also hear that there are not the people with the skills. It is a myth that there are totally no jobs around: it is just that there are not jobs for people without the hunger."

He also expressed concerns about the proposed English Baccalaureate. "My concern is that it must not derail technical and vocational education. Our own history is of that happening, even if it is unintentional."

On Friday, the editor of The Northern Echo, Peter Barron, praised Bishop Welby's "down-to-earth approach and sense of humour". As guest editor, the Bishop had pushed for a story about pot-bellied pigs to go on the front page.

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