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New Cumbrian vicar arrives with her flock

A newly appointed Cumbrian vicar has arrived in the county along with her own ready-made flock - of sheep that is!

The Rev Angela Hughes has taken up post as House for Duty Priest in Charge in the Benefice of Lanercost, Walton, Gilsland and Nether Denton.

She arrived in the county along with her 23 rare breed sheep – ten Hebrideans, eight Badger Faced Welsh Mountains and five Manx Loaghtans - and eight sheepdogs which she trials regularly.

It’s a passion which dates back many years with Angela having previously trained Border Collies in agility, obedience and working trials. A love of sheep - she bred one of England’s best flocks of Manx Loaghtans for show – eventually led to sheep dog trials.

Angela explained: “I first started going to a lady in Norfolk for training. Initially you and the dog must learn how to do the work and know the commands. When I had a dog which was safe to work with sheep it was great fun to start going to trials.

“My training incumbent as a Curate was a Cumbrian who used to comment about me being one woman and her dog or the Good Shepherd and people still show a keen interest in what I do as a pastime.

“I’ve had a huge welcome from people here. In the past I have occasionally struggled to find somewhere to keep my sheep but up here parishioners have been very generous in finding fields for them. For the first eight days that I was living in Lanercost, and before I could start in post, I went to seven trials. It’s been great.

“The funny thing is that people naturally assume I had a rural upbringing but I was born in Brighton, so it’s maybe not what you might expect.”

Angela, 66, is officially retired but as House for Duty she will be available for parish work on Sundays and two other days. It means she will have more opportunity to devote to her pastime.

A school teacher for 16 years, Angela trained as a Reader before being ordained in 1992 and Priested two years later. Next year she celebrates 25 years in ministry having served in Worcester, Leicester, Lincoln, Brechin and Peterborough dioceses before her move to the Diocese of Carlisle – the Church of England in Cumbria.

“God’s timing has brought me here, though I’ve wanted to be in Cumbria for a long time,” Angela explained. “I’ve always felt drawn to minister in the north. An added bonus is that it’s a great base for the sheep dog trials.”

Angela now shares the Vicarage in Lanercost with her eight dogs – Frost, Joe, Vic, Jill, Alf, Jet, Ghost and Glen. Together they have won a number of Nursery and Novice trials, though she has yet to be placed in the top six at an Open trial.

She says the trials offer her a great day out with her dogs and her friends, as well as a chance to gently spread the Gospel message.

“I enter trials as the Rev Angela Hughes and people know I’m a vicar,” Angela explains. “I would never push my faith but likewise I don’t hide it away so opportunities do present themselves. One day I went to a working trial and the lady taking bookings asked if I could pray for her daughter and grand-daughter; what a privilege.”

And as for her ‘flock’ of parishioners across the Benefice, Angela jokes: “The sheep may be a little bit easier as I can get the dogs to help me. That wouldn’t work quite so well with the human flock.”

 

For further information please contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at communications@carlislediocese.org.uk.

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