ADAM SMITH, the 18th-century economist, has helped churches in the north-west to share a windfall of £7000 for good causes.
The name of the author of The Wealth of Nations was the winning answer from the Priest-in-Charge of St Paul’s, Skelmersdale, the Revd Chris Spittle, on the ITV1 quiz Tenable, broadcast on Tuesday of last week. Mr Spittle led a team of five priests from the Ormskirk deanery, in Liverpool diocese, who had to identify ten names on a series of lists, including celebrity weddings, wine varieties, and, helpfully, abbeys. To win the final round, the team — named “Vicars in a Twist” by the show’s producers — had to name historical figures on British banknotes. Mr Spittle identified Adam Smith’s £20-note portrait at the last minute.
“It all got quite exciting,” he said. “We could have won up to £125,000, but just reckoned that anything we got was a bonus. We offered £500 to each of the churches in the deanery for them to do what they liked.
“I was quite touched by what happened. One church knew a family that had just moved into the area at short notice, and were sleeping on mattresses, so bought beds and carpets. Two churches replaced broken cookers so they could do community meals. Others used it for food at children’s and pensioners’ clubs.”
He came up with the idea of competing after reading a Facebook appeal for contestants. “I took it to our deanery chapter meeting and I said: ‘I’ve got a bit of a wheeze.’ . . . I reckoned they would go for a team of vicars. At worst, we would have some fun; at best, we could raise some money for good causes and hopefully show clergy as relatively normal. When I asked who was up for it, some said ‘Absolutely not,’ but quite a few said ‘Yes.’ The team was selected purely on availability, and who replied first.”
Within hours of applying, they were doing a Zoom audition. The recording at Pinewood Studios took two hours after going through the rules, choosing which outfit to wear of the three that they were asked to bring, and then applying make-up: “They even trimmed my eyebrows,” Mr Spittle said. “They also paid for us to have a night in London the night before. We loved every minute.”
One of his team members, the Revd Jacqueline Davies, an assistant curate of Christ Church, Aughton, said: “It was wonderful, because of the causes we were doing it for. To be able to make a bit of a difference in people’s lives is really important. Raising money to help people in need is what we are called to do.”
The other clergy in the team were the Vicar of Burscough Bridge, Canon David Banbury, the Rector of St Michael’s, Aughton, and Bickerstaffe, the Revd Captain Andrew Housley CA, and the Revd Jack Shepherd, who, at the time of recording, was an assistant curate of Up Holland and Dalton, in Ormskirk deanery, now the Vicar of Christ Church, Pennington, in Manchester diocese.
They would do it again “like a shot”, Mr Spittle said. “We are already talking about what might be the next thing — but perhaps not Love Island.”