THE 1970s singer-songwriter and pianist Peter Skellern has fulfilled a life-long ambition to take Holy Orders. And, in a rare move, he was ordained deacon and priest on the same day, as he has an inoperable brain tumour.
The service, on 16 October, required a faculty from the Archbishop of Canterbury, and was conducted by the Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton, in the singer’s parish church, St Wyllow’s, Lanteglos-by-Fowey, in Cornwall.
Mr Skellern, aged 69, whose first hit was “You’re a Lady”, in 1972, is originally from Bury, in Lancashire. He played the organ at St Michael’s, Bolton. As a nine-year-old, he aspired to the priesthood, but a successful music career intervened. Finally, in 2014, he was put forward for ordination training, but, shortly after, his tumour was diagnosed.
“For about a week, I hung in this abyss, and I just grabbed God,” he said. “I was given a year to live, and everything fell — apart from my belief in God. It was like that for about a week, and then God closed the ground beneath me, and I became resigned and happy, and I have been like that ever since.”
Bishop Thornton said: “Peter has been considering a sense of vocation for a very long time, and it is tragic in many ways that, as he has had this calling confirmed, he was diagnosed with cancer. It seemed right to me that he should be ordained both deacon and priest so that God can continue to work through him, and, in his life and ministry, he can be faithful to becoming the person God wants him to be.”