New Ilfracombe vicar to be licensed

THE new vicar in Ilfracombe is looking forward to taking up his new duties after returning to his spiritual home of North Devon. Father Robert Harris was born in Barnstaple and raised in Braunton, and will be renewing his ties with the area tomorrow (Thur

THE new vicar in Ilfracombe is looking forward to taking up his new duties after returning to his spiritual home of North Devon.

Father Robert Harris was born in Barnstaple and raised in Braunton, and will be renewing his ties with the area tomorrow (Thursday) when his official licensing service is held in the town.

All are welcome to attend his installation as Priest in Charge at 7.30pm in Holy Trinity Parish Church, when the service will be conducted by the Bishop of Crediton, the Right Reverend Bob Evens, assisted by the Archdeacon of Barnstaple, the Venerable David Gunn-Johnstone.

He takes on the vacant post following the retirement of the Reverend Prebendary Nigel Jackson-Stevens in November 2008.


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For Father Robert Harris, aged 52 the move from his previous parish of Southwick in West Sussex to Ilfracombe has all the hallmarks of coming home.

"I have always maintained a love for North Devon and have always felt it was my spiritual home," he said.

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"Both my wife Christine and I have family in Devon, in Braunton and at Willand. I was not expecting to move back until I retired but this vacancy arose and it just seemed incredibly right to apply for the post.

"It's an opportunity to put something back into the communities which have helped shape my life and given me so much.

"Ilfracombe is clearly a community which is developing, optimistic and has the potential for a great future and I hope some of my experience working in communities can be of benefit - I am looking forward to working with the local church families and becoming involved in the life of the wider community.

After attending North Devon College Father Robert trained as a science teacher at the College of St Mark and St John in Plymouth and also holds a Masters degree in education management, administration and policy. He has served as a governor of both community and church schools over the years.

He was ordained a priest in 1982 after attending Chichester Theological College and spent his time as curate at Portsea in Portsmouth, going on to his own parish just outside Bristol and then the parishes of Felpham and Southwick. A keen naturalist whose first degree focused on estuary and coastal ecology, when his duties allow he is looking forward to exploring the Tarka Trail and coastline.

He and Christine have three adult children. The eldest, Matthew and his partner Stella plus their grandson Harry have moved to Ilfracombe with them and joined them at the Vicarage.

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