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  • Debbie Ducille

Commissioning is a ‘great honour’

Helen Sanderson was commissioned at St Nicholas Church, New Romney, on 4 February. Helen writes:

I learned only last summer about Anna Chaplaincy and I have now been commissioned as the first Anna Chaplain on Romney Marsh! This feels like a great honour but also a responsibility as I look forward to helping recruit many other Anna Chaplains and Friends on the Romney Marsh over the course of this year.

To me, working with older people is very important work which too often gets overlooked. We are, after all, one family, and in the church, this should be obvious to us, perhaps more obvious than in society in general. In a Christian context, to reach a great age is a gift from God and appreciating those who are elderly should, I believe, come naturally to us as Christians.

My grandmother Lily was a strong influence on my life as she lived with us in the family home. She had been widowed at 33 years old and was a stoical lady, very capable and practical. She had the responsibility of single-handedly caring for her two children whilst working, all during the pre-war and war years. She did, however, have the support of her church and some wonderful friends. Lily was head cook at a local school and then became a cook in a hospital assigned to the preparation of meals for the Matron and senior staff. Growing up, I loved the meals Grandma Lily cooked for us and I remember her with a great deal of love and pride.

My husband and I then went on to emulate the above family model ourselves: my parents came to live with us for 23 years and our four children loved them so much. They provided an extra layer of stability and warmth in the household and our lives would not have been the same without them there.

I hope in my Anna Chaplaincy role to provide the spiritual support that I can see is needed, in formal ways through services delivered at the homes I visit and Bible studies, but also in more informal ways as needed on a one-to-one basis. There is so much grace in this work and I find it enjoyable as well as spiritually rewarding.



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