UK news in brief

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15 March 2019

LICHFIELD CATHEDRAL

The artist Peter Walker works on his scale model of St Chad, which is to be turned into a bronze, three-metre-high statue for Lichfield Cathedral. See gallery for more picture stories

The artist Peter Walker works on his scale model of St Chad, which is to be turned into a bronze, three-metre-high statue for Lichfield Cathedral. See...

Diocese apologises as abuser pleads guilty

THE diocese of Chester has made an unreserved apology to the survivor of abuse perpetrated by the Revd Gordon Dickenson in the 1970s. Mr Dickenson, who is 89, was Vicar of Christ Church, Latchford, from 1968 to 1974. At Chester Crown Court on Monday of last week, he pleaded guilty to eight counts of sexual activity with a child. A diocesan statement said: “We offer an unreserved apology to the survivor. . . Information brought to light to the diocese in 2009, if acted upon then, may have led to the police bringing a prosecution against Gordon Dickenson much sooner. . . A review will now be conducted into the handling of the case, to identify where any failures in procedures arose and what lessons can be learned.” In 2017, when the police began investigating historic allegations against Bishop Victor Whitsey (News, 17 October 2017), the diocese discovered a letter from Dickenson, sent to them in 2009, in which he acknowledged that he had been accused of indecently assaulting a young boy, and stated that Bishop Whitsey had made him promise never to do it again. The letter was passed to the police.

New name for Sons and Friends of the Clergy

THE charity Sons and Friends of the Clergy, which since 2012 is the amalgamation of two clergy-support charities founded in 1655 and 1820 respectively, has been renamed the Clergy Support Trust, after a consultation in which two-thirds of respondents were in favour of a change. The aim was to “make the charity’s name more inclusive, and its work more accessible to Anglican clergy, almost a third of whom are now women”, a press release said. It has also set a goal of doubling the number of clergy families that it helps by 2022. A new online eligibility checker is available on its website. www.clergysupport.org.uk

A few months left for planning next year’s sabbatical

CLERGY seeking funding for sabbatical breaks and projects are encouraged to apply for the insurance firm Ecclesiastical’s Ministry Bursary Awards, which opened this week. They are open to Anglican clergy in stipendiary ministry who have been ordained for at least ten years and have not taken a sabbatical in the previous seven years. Last year’s awards ranged in size from £200 to £1500. The closing date for entries for sabbaticals to be taken next year is 30 September. www.ecclesiastical.com/mba

Smoking habit helps to convict lead-thief

PETRE ROMEO CAZAN, 42, of Town Road, London, who stole lead from six churches and caused damage of more than £186,000 was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison, at Cambridge Crown Court last Friday. He was found guilty of seven charges of theft and seven of criminal damage. The churches that he targeted were across Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and east Hampshire. He was convicted with the aid of phone data, an automatic number-plate-recognition camera, and DNA from a cigarette end.

Hospital visits follow Ash Wednesday rite

DOZENS of pupils were left with burn marks after being the imposition of ashes at St Augustine’s High School in Redditch, Worcestershire, on Ash Wednesday, The Times reports. Seventy-three students, 16 teachers, and the chairman of the governors were all affected, and were advised to seek further medical attention. Cassena Brown, who took her son, Chairo Rowe, 14, to hospital, said: “Because he is of Afro-Caribbean heritage, you can see the burn very clearly, as the skin is burnt and it’s white underneath.” A statement from the school expressed dismay. “An investigation has started and the ashes are being analysed by external experts.”

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