An interesting few pages taken from the History of St Anne’s given to me by Judi Morley, which was published to mark the bicentennial in 1999…
The Reverend Hugh William Bearn – The Eleventh Incumbent
The Parochial Church Council met in April 1995 after an interregnum of fourteen months. At the meeting they were informed by the Wardens, Peter Crabtree and Miss Jean Mullineaux, that an interview had recently taken place with the Reverend Hugh Bearn.
His commitment to traditional Anglicanism and his keen pastoral sense led both Peter and Miss Mullineaux to conclude that he was the right man for the position. Unfortunately, his service with the Royal Air Force meant that he would be unable to assume the appointment until 14 months later in June, 1996. It was agreed that the ‘right man’ was worth waiting for and the Patron of the living was duly informed. Owing to the length of the interregnum, the patronal rights of the parish had passed to the Archbishop of York, the Most Reverend and Right Honorable Dr John Habgood and it was he who ultimately offered the living to our current Vicar.
Hugh Bearn is the third of five children and was born in the City of Oxford. His family home backed onto the monastery belonging to the Cowley Fathers and from a very young age he had always felt a strong vocation to the priesthood. Despite his southern roots he has always had an affection for the north of England and was once described as a “loyal adopted son of the Manchester Diocese”. In 1980 he came up to the University of Manchester where he read Ancient History and Archaeology and represented his University in both rugby and hockey. Whilst at Manchester he worked abroad at the Anglican School in Jerusalem with both the Palestinian and Jewish communities. On completing his degree he gained the sponsorship of the Royal Artillery Regiment in seeking a Commission in the Army. However, he chose instead to test his vocation by spending a year teaching ‘O’ and ‘A’ level Divinity, as well as coaching rugby and hockey at St. Edmund’s School in Canterbury. In 1986 he went up to St. John’s College in Durham to train for the ministerial priesthood. During his time in training he worked at St Columb’s Cathedral in Londonderry, Liverpool Cathedral and spent a whole year at the Urban Studies Unit in Gateshead. It was here that he involved himself in a number of inner city projects including a large hospice movement specifically for those with AIDS.
Whilst studying at Durham he met his future wife Alison who was reading English Literature. After completing her degree Alison went on to study for her P.G.C.E at the University of Manchester. For two years she taught English at Turton High School before moving into Special Needs education. Whilst accompanying Hugh in the Royal Air Force she taught in Telford and Aberdeen and at the same time studied for an M.Ed at the University of Birmingham, where she was awarded a distinction for her research, part of which was ultimately to be published. She currently teaches at Tottington High School and has put together a number of social events for the young mothers of the parish including a wine tasting evening and a ten-pin bowling competition.
Hugh was made Deacon in 1989 and ordained priest in 1990 serving as Assistant Curate under The Reverend Canon Robin Johnson at Christ Church, Heaton, between 1989 and 1992. He maintains that his Vicar left an indelible mark on his ministry and refined much of the Anglicanism which he espouses. In an age in which the Church of England is becoming increasingly exclusive, Hugh maintains an inclusive and unconditional approach to the administration of the Sacraments to all.
In 1992 Hugh was granted a Commission as a Chaplain in the Royal Air Force. In his four years he served in Stations from South Georgia in the South Atlantic to Saxa Vord, the northern most part of the United Kingdom. His seniors were very surprised when he decided to leave the Royal Air Force in 1996 and return to parochial ministry. However he has maintained his connections with the Armed Forces and currently serves as a Commissioned Chaplain in the Royal Army Chaplains Department within the Territorial Army. He also serves as Chaplain to the Parachute Regimental Association and the South Lancashire Royal British Legion. In 1998 he completed his M.A. in theology at the University of Manchester researching aspects of military chaplaincy. The Vicar is involved with vocations within the Diocese and is a tutor to Readers in training. Orchestrating the reception of The Reverend Anthony Ingham into the Church of England as well as his licensing into Anglican Orders, and facilitating Christopher Jupp to identify his Readership gifts is a tangible expression of this work.
After accepting the living Hugh visited the parish on many occasions to meet members of the PCC and to prepare for his Induction and Institution on the 7th of June 1996. Soon after this event, on the 24th of June, the Parish welcomed the arrival of Harold (Harry) Charles Hugh Bearn, the first child for Hugh and Alison. The minutes of the Vicar’s very first PCC meeting record that he ‘opened the meeting with wine’ in celebration of the event! On the 26th of January 1999 their second son, Frederick (Freddie) William MacLean Bearn was born, who was baptised on the 18th of April.
The Vicar described himself to the PCC as ‘short of height but high of profile.’ Once in post he determined to make himself known to the village visiting the businesses, schools, new housing areas, pubs and places of recreation. Mid week Holy Communion was re-introduced and a Quiet Day was arranged for the PCC at Whalley Abbey. Youth work was reviewed and trips arranged for the Altar servers and collectors whilst the Uniformed organisations were taken to RAF Leeming. In 1997 a Parish trip was arranged to Durham and many supported the Choir when they sang at Lichfield Cathedral in 1998. Hugh holds the firm conviction that at her best the Church of England cannot be surpassed as far as the opportunities she has in serving the entire parish. He also believes that decency and order are hall marks of Anglican liturgy that ought to be cherished.
Hugh’s catch phrase is ‘must crack on!’ and a number of physical projects have been undertaken in his incumbency thus far. The arrival of two huge skips outside the Parish Hall saw the Vicar clearing out its cellar soon after he arrived. The Church was floodlit, the iron gates and archway restored, both Vestries were refurbished and a whole host of Church ornaments were restored and dedicated. In this respect he follows the fine example and dedicated work of some of his notable predecessors. The Vicar once wrote, ‘I have the good fortune to inherit what others have laboured with love over’. How true that sentiment is for all of us.
Thank you Hugh for 27 glorious years of dedication and energy. Wishing you a wonderful future in your new life as Chaplain of the Anglican Church of St Paul, Monte Carlo, Monaco.
‘must crack on!’