The arrival of our new Vicar Reverend Pippa, is such a big story for St Philip’s church and St Barnabas and St Philip’s Primary School that we needed to put our best cub reporters on it. Step forward Antonis Vakis (year 6) and Olivia Townsend (year 6) who came up with many of the questions, collated others from suggestions harvested at a school assembly, conducted the interview and have written it up here for you to read;
Where were you born?
I was born in London in what is now a very fancy hotel called The Lanesborough Hotel on Hyde Park corner, but when I was born it was St George’s hospital. Apparently, I was born in an hour because I was in a tremendous rush, and !am still always running, it seems.
Do you have or have you had any pets, and if so what were their names?
I’ll go with what I remember when I was very little: a cat called Pudtchits. We then had mice and birds and fortunately, the cat didn’t eat either. Then I had three gerbils called Gerby, Gerba (so creative…) and Niodspur. Then I had a bunny called Blackie (named by the Church of England Primary school where she came from) and a guinea pig called Treacle. I also had three donkeys who lived with my Grandmother in Suffolk. Their names were Fred and Flo, and Ferdinand, who was Flo’s son.
What did you want to be growing up?
Very young I recall wanting to be a farmer’s wife, probably in order to be surrounded by animals… Then I wanted to be a vet, but in a sense vets and priests are kind of similar, and I ended up caring for people instead of animals. And it came full circle when I became a Chaplain looking after vets students.
What made you choose St Phillips Church?
Well you know the motto “Come and See”
Antonis and Olivia: Yes
I think it is a wonderful motto. When I saw the motto I felt that I wanted to come and see: to connect with people young and old, as well as with the school. It seemed like an exciting place to be.
Do you enjoy singing?
I really enjoy singing but please don’t listen too closely! I used to sing as first soprano in a choir and I do still love joining with others in singing.
What is your favourite hymn?
That’s really tricky because I have many favourites, but one from my school days is “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind”. Others are “All creatures of our God and King”, “The Day Thou gavest, Lord is Ended” and “Lord of all Hopefulness, Lord of all Joy“. Many of favourites were sung at the service when I became Vicar of St. Philip’s Church, with the bishop a few weeks ago.
What is your favourite chapter of the Bible?
May I have more than one, please! One of my favourite passages from Paul’s Letter to the Philippians was read by the Bishop at my licensing service and is all about being joyful and rejoicing in the Lord. Another one I love comes at the end of St Luke’s Gospel, after the resurrection, known as “The Road to Emmaus” where we hear the words “and he went with them.” I once saw these words written in pebbles on the beach, which led me to seek out this passage where I found the story of Jesus walking with the disciples. I love this passage because it tells us Jesus is with us all the time.
How do you see St Philip’s role in our community?
Well, the church invites us to “come and see” the mission statement is to reach out to all people and bring the joy and love of Christ to all people. We are the church on the corner with doors open and reaching out in different directions to all in our community.
Do you plan to change anything about St Philips church?
Is that really your question? (Laughter) Is that your parent’s question? (laughter).
One thing I want to do is to listen to everyone, particularly all of you who are connected with St Phillips church and our community and to hear your ideas. One long-term plan might be to open our wooden doors so all can “Come and see” into our church. Wouldn’t that be great?
What makes you happiest and why?
I love connecting with family and friends as well as discovering new friends, including all at St. Philip’s. I rejoice in the beauty of God’s creation and when we get a dog I will enjoy going to the park to soak up its beauty and engaging with others.
If you could be given one superpower, what would it be and why?
Sometimes I wish I could be in more than one place at once!
Who inspires you?
My inspiration comes from God and the presence of God around me, challenging and filling me. However if I could pick just one person who inspires me I would probably choose Bishop Desmond Tutu, who I had the pleasure of meeting on several occasions. I don’t know if you know who he but if not, he is a bishop in South Africa and he has been through so many struggles with his country yet he is always filled with joy. He is so filled with the love of God and laughter. He has brought about so much positive change to this world.
Quick fire questions
Favourite food? Melons in the summer!
Favourite colour? I can’t pick one as I love all autumn colours: greens, rusts and oranges.
Favourite animal? Probably a dog!
Favourite sport? I’m not very sporty but I did once (never again!) do a 300-mile bike ride from Gettysburg in Pennsylvania to New York City, in the United States, in aid of people living with HIV/AIDS. It took three days and it’s very hilly!
Favourite hobby? I love photography!
Favourite place? I love New York where I lived for 20 years and London, where I grew up. I also really love a beautiful place in a beautiful part of the world called Dunwich in Suffolk, which, alas, has mostly fallen into the sea….
Favourite TV show? Foyle’s War – and Rev!
Favourite book? Well, there is that ONE book that we delve into all the time, the Bible, which is woven into so much of our literature but I also love books by Gerald Durrell, especially – My Family and Other Animals