Berwick’s new vicar seeks active role in community

Reverand Dennis Handley at Berwick Parish Church

Reverand Dennis Handley at Berwick Parish Church

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Berwick will welcome its new vicar, the Rev Dennis Handley, at an induction service taken by the Bishop of Newcastle on Wednesday.

The congregation will be swelled by nearly 50 parishioners from Almondbury with Farnley Tyas in Yorkshire, his previous posting, who are coming to wish him good luck.

Reverand Dennis Handley at Berwick Parish Church

Reverand Dennis Handley at Berwick Parish Church

“There will be lots of B&B’s in Berwick getting some good business that night,” joked Dennis, who moved into The Vicarage at Holy Trinity and St Mary last week. “On a more serious note though, that’s what made it such a difficult decision to leave. The people there were so lovely.”

However, Dennis and his wife, Catherine, had their heart set on a move to Northumberland having spent numerous holidays here over the past 30 years.

“We’ve always enjoyed it, not just visiting the touristy spots but spending time in remote farmhouses,” said Dennis. “We also love the people who we’ve always found so friendly.

“It was Catherine who spotted the vacancy here at Berwick,” he added. “We talked about it and thought it was just what we wanted so we were so pleased when I was offered the position as vicar.”

He has some big boots to fill as successor to larger-than-life Canon Alan Hughes, who retired last year.

“I’m very much looking forward to getting out and about, meeting people and getting involved in the community,” he said.

“One of the things that attracted me was the similarities Berwick has to some of the other parishes I’ve worked in. For example, it has a hospital so I’ll be able to do some chaplaincy work, it has two church schools and strong links with the mayoralty.”

After leaving school, Dennis became a chartered design engineer. He still uses those skills as a classic car enthusiast who has lovingly restored an MG Midget.

However, he decided on a career in the church. Ordained in the Ripon diocese he served two curacies in Leeds, at Headingley and Rothwell.

He went to the Wakefield diocese in 1992, to Christ Church Liversedge – where he hit the headlines for jumping on the tow bar of a getaway truck when thieves were stealing the church flagstones.

After five years he moved to Ripponden, Rishworth, Barkisland and West Scammonden for nine years and a further seven in Almondbury with Farnley Tyas.

He and Catherine have three grown up children.

The induction service is at 7.30pm. Dennis will take his first service on March 23.

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