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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

New Anna Chaplain for Buckinghamshire

Updated: May 12, 2022

Ven Guy Elsmore, Kay Bradley and Revd Ros Roberts

We are delighted that Kay Bradley is the newly-commissioned Anna Chaplain in Lenborough, Buckinghamshire.

‘My commissioning was at the 10.30 am on Palm Sunday (10 April) at St Mary the Virgin, Padbury, a church at which I have worshipped for 58 years since I got married. Revd Ros Roberts was the celebrant, the commissioning was conducted by Ven Guy Elsmore, archdeacon of Buckingham. It was low key and lovely. It felt so warm to be amongst supportive friends.’

My journey to becoming an Anna Chaplain:

‘“Anna Chaplains”, did you say “Anna Chaplains”? Who are they? I wonder how often that question is asked. About 18 months ago, I was searching the internet to get inspiration for intercessions and found just what I was looking for, accredited to an Anna Chaplain.

‘I have no idea why, but those two words were like a flashing neon sign saying “come and see, find out who we are, what we do.” This moment more or less coincided with our first lockdown Christmas. I am a widow, and didn’t bubble with any of the family because they wanted me to stay safe, so, unusually, I had the wonderful gift of time, almost entirely to myself. I could explore, think and plan.

‘For eight months prior to this, we had discovered a whole new world which included live streaming and Zoom! Our Lenborough vicar, Revd Ros live-streamed Holy Communion and other services to Facebook, held twice weekly prayer meetings via Zoom and once a week presented a midday moment of mindfulness. We could see exactly what was going on and had the chance to talk, ask questions and really think about what we were doing and saying. I think my questions must have driven her mad but she was always patient and if she didn’t know the answer, which she usually did, she steered me to where I could find it. My life had changed and I couldn't get enough of it! It was wonderful.

‘I have, I suppose, been a Christian all my life. I never remember a time when I didn’t attend church regularly. My childhood revolved around the church, my husband and I met through the church and this pattern continued with our own three daughters. I still have friends from my childhood church days, back in the 1950s. What I now realised was that all this was rather like wearing a comfortable pair of slippers. I took it for granted and didn’t think about what I was doing and what all the words were about. Knowing “what page I was on” was probably what concerned me most!

‘I had been an active carer for my parents, then for my husband, since about 1985. I worked extensively with carers’ organisations and within a university faculty of health and social sciences so knew how other people could improve things or make them worse. At this stage, life seemed incomplete, but I didn’t know why. This is where finding out about Anna Chaplaincy and most importantly, discovering God, through the strength of the Bible and the power of prayer, changed me and my whole outlook.’

‘I began to think about the rhythm of life, where could I fit in, how I might be able to help others. I have “lived long” and been so lucky in what I have been able to do and now I just wanted to make life easier for those who perhaps were struggling. I found people seeking me out wanting to talk. I had time to listen. Just recently, somebody I have walked beside through difficult times thanked me for my “friendship and quiet support” and for me, that sums up so much of the work of an Anna Chaplain.’

‘I know I have changed, become calmer and that in no small part is down to the support I have had from my family, friends and, of course, from Ros. I realise that I still have a long way to go. I am, I suppose, a perfectionist which is not a good trait but I am trying very hard to determine what matters and what doesn’t. Getting annoyed is a wasted emotion using energy that can serve better purposes.’

‘Planning and running events that improve the lives of those who have lived long is a privilege and it is such a delight to see people growing in confidence and in their faith.’

‘A newfound love for and trust in God shines through all this and I hope and pray that what I say and do has the right effect on others. By the number of people who contact me, I think it does. It is also heartening to see how people who probably haven’t sung hymns since school assemblies, enjoy the fellowship of coming to church and being together.

‘The philosophy of Anna Chaplaincy is to accompany older people at this stage of their lives. It is a person-centred and non-judgemental ministry for people of strong, little or no faith at all. I am sure that over the years, this has been done in one form or another by various organisations, but the strength of an Anna Chaplain is having the help and support of BRF bringing expertise, training and experience all under one, easily identifiable, umbrella. I thank God for enabling me to be a part of such an organisation and for enabling me to meet, talk, walk and work beside so many amazing people.’

‘I was unable to undertake any training until spring 2022, but I wanted to start working with all the lovely people that I felt might benefit from various initiatives. My first venture was a special Harvest service followed by afternoon tea. That was the start of Anna Chaplaincy in the Lenborough Benefice. It has kept growing.’



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