April 2023

We caught up with the Revd Pete Stone on the eve of his departure from the Parish of Bridport, where he had been the team vicar since 2014. He is now the rector of St Martin Le Vieux, Jersey, although this hadn’t been announced at the time of going to press.

The Revd Pete Stone: I’m definitely going to miss the buzz of this wonderful town. It’s been a privilege and an honour to be here, particularly being part of civic occasions and Remembrance parades as well as important occasions in people’s lives like baptisms, weddings and funerals. I saw first hand during Covid how strong the sense of community is here – there’s a real determination to make life better for others.

TB: Apart from your parish duties, what else have you been involved in here?

PS: Vicars are usually encouraged to take on an extra ‘thing’ alongside their day-to-day responsibilities, and I chose a military role. For the last eight years I’ve been padre to the 39 Signal Regiment, a Royal Signals reserve regiment with locations in Bristol, Bath, Windsor and Cardiff. I’ve provided pastoral and spiritual support to the soldiers, who are people of all faiths and none.

I’ve also been a governor at St Mary’s Primary School and it’s been wonderful to witness the dedication and enthusiasm of the staff there, as well as the joy and wonder of the kids. The staff are some of the most inspirational people I’ve ever come across; they do an amazing job helping the kids to shine and be all they can.

TB: Will you be continuing your army connection alongside your new job?

PS: I’m afraid not. The role of padre is a military one and I’d be expected to help physically on the battlefield as well as in a pastoral way. Unfortunately I’ve had to resign my army commission because I damaged my Achilles tendons a while ago, and although they’re much better now, I wouldn’t pass the army fitness test! There may, however, be an opportunity for me to apply for a civilian role as an army chaplain at my new location.

TB: What did you do before you came to Bridport?

PS: I was a curate in Charminster and Stinsford, near Dorchester, for four years. Before that I was training at Cuddesdon for ordination, and before that I was working with a charity called REinspired as project manager. We helped schools to deliver religious education creatively and fruitfully in ethnically diverse, multi-faith settings.

I’ve also spent time as a youth and children’s worker, and way back in the early years of my career I was a civil servant at the Ministry of Defence.

TB: How does your family feel about the impending move?

PS: My wife, Anne, is a nurse practitioner working at the minor injuries unit in Bridport and the urgent treatment centre in Weymouth. She will definitely carry on nursing and she’s looking forward to our new adventure!

I know our children will enjoy visiting our new home. Our son, Josh, is 23 and studying zoology at Aberystwyth University. He worked in farming for a while and decided to go into disease management in animals, so he did biology A-level in a year then started the degree course.

Esther – known as Essie – is our 21-year-old daughter and this year she’ll be finishing her degree in film and theatre at Royal Holloway, part of the University of London. She wants to be a teacher; she went to Colfox and she’s hoping to do her teacher training practice here in Bridport.

And I know our dogs are going to love our new home, too! We have a ‘spoodle’ – spaniel/poodle cross – called Tilly, and a ‘kelpador’ – kelpie/labrador – called Barney. They can’t wait to start exploring all their new walks.

One of the things I’m looking forward to is setting up my model railway in its new location! I’ve been building it in our garage for seven years and it’s currently boxed up ready for the move. I’ve heard that vicars love model trains because they’re the only thing they can control…

TB: Can you give us a clue about where you’re going?

PS: Not really! It’s a Crown appointment so the King himself has to sign it off before I can make it public. I can say that it’s a coastal location, although that’s not what drew me to it. It’s a church that wants to grow spiritually as well as in numbers; for me the attraction is always about the people rather than the place.