DH - We’ve been away to Gran Canaria with two of our children, Rosie and Tansy and also catching up with some of our friends from when we lived in Forest Gate, London.
CF – Nice. Are the canaries really that big out there?
DH - What?
CF – Never mind. Tell me why you left the leafy Home Counties for Ely? How quickly did you find your feet?
DH – We left after 18 years because Chris decided to become a full- time vicar (having fitted in planting and leading two churches around working full-time in a job which regularly took him abroad). It was quite a change for us; our youngest child left home at the same time and we went from a small church plant where we knew everyone to a much larger church where we knew no-one! Previous to moving I had managed to get a lovely part time job in a village primary school which I would have loved to continue with-so it was quite a wrench. However, I was sure it was the right thing for us to do. It probably took me about a year or so to feel at home.
CF – you have already mentioned your children, though they are hardly children anymore. Tell me a bit about them. Do they share any personality traits with you and/or Chris?
DH – Simon is twenty-nine and currently living at home with us, having had a career change from Chemistry teaching and mentoring new teachers, to working as a technical consultant which has brought him to Cambridge. He certainly doesn’t share our need for things to be done in advance or for things to be tidy! He is a voracious reader(takes after me!) and enjoys being outdoors whenever possible. In particular he enjoys walking in the Peak district and Ultimate Frisbee.
Rosie is a marketing manager for a company that rents out office space in London. She has a degree in photography and has a sunny personality (dad),is very creative (mum), fun to be with and very determined(?) when she wants to do something. She enjoys team sports and gets up ridiculously early to go to the gym! (not mum!)
Tansy is getting more and more like her dad every day! She is very organised and can think clearly about what she wants to achieve and then creates a plan to work towards it. She has just completed a business degree and is working for Microsoft. She loves music and is always singing and I love her playlists! She enjoys team sports(netball/hockey) and is very outgoing.
CF – Cracking. We have something in common in that my son has moved back in. I love the aroma of three day-old sopping wet towels and bacon cooking at 3 in the morning. Moving on (rapidly), what is your favourite book from the Bible and why?
DH – Hard to say…probably John’s gospel. It was the first thing I read as a Christian and I love the way it is written-simply yet so profound.
CF – Many people I speak to love John, myself included. Favourite verse?
DH - Psalm 1 v3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither-whatever they do prospers.
It speaks of God’s continuing grace and how he helps us to flourish in our faith.
CF – Beautiful. The delicious poetry of Psalms never ceases to amaze me. Now a bit of a curveball. If you were an animal, what would it be and why?
DH – Cat-they’re independent, funny, work on their own agenda without the slightest consideration for anyone else!
CF – But they also like to sleep all day, attack people without warning and get stuck up trees? That lump you took out of your head. Was that a cat or do you just walk about with your eyes shut?
DH – No comment. Move on please.
CF – Fair enough. Tell me a bit more about your work and the teams you work with. What is best bit of your job?
DH – I work within a small team in Mission department as Children’s Adviser for the Diocese, along with Ed Olsworth-Peter and Rachael Heffer. My role is to support churches in their work particularly with families with young children. It is varied and interesting and I meet a lot of people and aim to support them with resources, ideas and training as they work in in their local churches and communities. The best bit for me is seeing how people I have trained develop in confidence and start new things and are a real blessing to their communities and a real encouragement to their clergy.
CF – Wonderful. and your least favourite part?
DH – travelling back from visits/events in the winter evenings across the fens!
CF – With you on that one. I was stranded at a railway station (if you can call it that) north of Littleport last November. Had visions of a hiker finding my skeletal remains three months after I disappeared. Tell me about a memory that has a particular resonance with you – good or bad
DH – As a five year old, being swept off a breakwater in Italy by a freak wave and being rescued by an Italian man who I didn’t understand!
CF – Are you sure you weren’t knocked off the breakwater by an Italian and rescued by a Freak?
DH – Quite sure.
CF – Ok then. What is good about the Church of England and what needs to change?
DH – Quite a lot to say on this! It has an excellent Archbishop in Justin Welby and many wonderful priests doing amazing work which is frequently unseen. However it has often been slow to adapt and change and is often seen as rigid and judgmental. I would like to encourage the church to embrace variety, change and to adopt a belong, believe, behave/become mentality rather than expecting these behaviours in a different order.
CF – I like Justin Welby too. Safe pair of hands in turbulent times. So Debbie, what do you regard as your great likes and dislikes?
DH -likes-coffee, chocolate, cake, wine, bright colours, gardening, swimming, walking, meals with friends, being on my own
Dislikes-pears; parents who are cruel to children either deliberately aggressive or negligent; crowded places; being too busy with no ‘downtime’
CF – I “like” your likes. I would combine some of those – walking in the hills on one’s own, overwhelmed by the beauty and colours of nature, swigging hot strong sweet coffee. Children are a gift and they deserve unconditional love and care. Any failure to do so, whether deliberate or through negligence, is a catastrophe which always reaps an appalling harvest.
Back to holidays now. What is your favourite holiday destination and why? How do you relax (are you an active “Let’s get on the tennis court” type, a “heaven is a good book and a spa” type, or somewhere in-between)?
DH – Quiet, warm, good food, swimming pool and a good book!
CF – Finally, sum yourself up in fewer than 20 words
DH – Creative, passionate, witty…I would like my epitaph to be ‘She made a difference.’
CF – Well I believe you have succeeded in that. Many thanks for your time Debbie