New clergy for Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire

A former Naval nurse, a former barrister as well as a woman who has worked as a BBC presenter, and a man who has been a horticulturalist are among the 30 people set to become the Thames Valley’s newest clergy. The 30 men and women will be ordained as deacons in special services set to take place at Oxford’s Christ Church Cathedral on Saturday 29 June.

The newly ordained Deacons will mainly serve as curates in parishes across the Diocese of Oxford, which covers Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

Below are details of the candidates, where they are to serve and a brief biography of each one.

Oxford – to be ordained at 10am 

• Nikolaj Christensen – Iffley
• Thomas Howell – St Andrew’s, Oxford
• Clare Leal – Summertown
• Thomas Murray – St Andrew’s, Oxford

Reading – to be ordained at 10am

• Amy Cavender – Greyfriars, Reading
• John Freeman – Greyfriars, Reading
• Julie Howell – West Downland
• Ian Miller – Maindenhead, St Andrew and St Mary Magdalen
• Robin Sharples – Hungerord and Denford
• Andrew Storch – Caversham, Thameside and Mapledurham
• Katherine Weston- Basildon with Aldworth and Ashampstead

Dorchester – to be ordained at 2pm

• Patricia Bird – Charlbury with Shortampton
• Iona Cheyne – Chase
• Andrea Colbrook – Ridgeway
• Jacob Eggertsen – St Paul’s, Banbury
• Michael Madden – Hanborough and Freeland
• Judith Marshall – Chipping Norton
• Andrew McCulloch – Cogges and South Leigh
• Yvonne Mullins – Shelswell
• Catherine Schneider – Cumnor

Buckingham – to be ordained at 6pm

• Benjamin Clarke – Gerrards Cross and Fulmer
• Claire Gerard – Hazlemere
• Stephen Hallett – Water Eaton
• Pat Kerr – Risborough
• Isaac Knight – Flackwell Heath
• Suzanne Johnson – Taplow and Dropmore
• Tracy Jones – Hughenden
• Kevin Lovell – Prestwood and Great Hampden
• Mark Nelson – Addington
• Sally Prendergast – Wendover and Halton


Nikolaj Christensen
Nikolaj Christensen grew up in Denmark as the son of a Lutheran pastor. He first moved to the UK in 2011 and has lived in and around Oxford for most of the time since then. After ordination he will serve at Iffley with Rose Hill and Donnington in Oxford.

Thomas Howell
I’m married to Caroline. We’re parents and foster parents of five amazing children (aged 10 – 16). I’m a school chaplain and will continue to be whilst serving at St Andrew’s. Prior to chaplaincy I worked in a secondary comprehensive and for a mission agency both in the UK and overseas.

Clare Leal
Clare is married with a teenage son. Originally from South East London, she came to Oxford 25 years ago via Leeds and has spent her working life in social housing organisations in all three places. Clare is an Oblate of the Community of St Mary the Virgin.

Thomas Murray
Tom is married to Gin, with a two-year-old daughter Kitty and another baby on the way. Tom loves all things sporty and is looking forward to finding a football team in Oxford, as well as playing cricket for the Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI. Tom is also interested in military chaplaincy.

Amy Cavender
Some say embarrassing and funny. I was born in Bristol 45 years ago, rammed full of hope and appreciated the chaos of life from early on. I’ve learnt more through mistakes, loss and silence than through academic study – and found peace in strange places laughing and crying with broken people like myself… I savour how God is with us all and how we respond to that love with each other.

John Freeman
John first sensed a calling to ordination while studying for a degree in Biochemistry, and went on to train at St Mellitus College while serving as a worship pastor. He’s married to Steph, and they’re both looking forward to being part of all that God is doing in Reading.

Julie Howell
Prior to training at Cuddesdon, Julie has spent a career in risk management. She has gone from “building sites to building the kingdom”. She enjoys walking, cycling and the great outdoors, and feels blessed to be serving God and the people of the West Downland Benefice, in such a beautiful part of Berkshire.

Ian Miller
Ian Miller is married to Tamsin and has four daughters. He studied history in Berlin, Oxford and Warwick before qualifying in law. He practised as a barrister in London for 18 years and was Chairman of the Lawyers Christian Fellowship.

Robin Sharples
Robin followed a long road to ordination since graduating in Theology at London Bible College in 1982. He pursued an educational career leading to his current role with the Oxford Diocese Schools department. Along the way he has been a storyteller and bass guitarist, useful skills for any minister!

Andrew Storch
Why would a well-established criminal defence solicitor abandon his law firm and spend six years training to be a vicar? Two things: the four-part call I felt since I was 19, and a growing conviction that having helped people in the here and now I should be helping people with the now and forever.

Katherine Weston
I am excited, if somewhat daunted, to have been called by God to ministry after a career in business at director level and latterly as an independent consultant and coach (leadership and change management). Outside the church, my passions are music, real tennis, gardening, travelling, reading, family, and friends.

Patricia Bird
I was born in Kenya and have lived in various countries. I’m married to Andy and we have three children and three grandchildren. My first career was nursing, second was teaching, then I became a Licensed Lay Minister and after finally responding to God’s call to the priesthood, I realise this is where I belong!

Iona Cheyne
I have lived in Oxfordshire for nine years with my husband and one small, excitable dog. I started training for lay ministry but soon felt an overwhelming call to be ordained. I’m looking forward to the challenges, rewards and joy of serving God in a rural benefice.

Andrea Colbrook
With a background in district nursing and counselling, I was a hospital chaplain before beginning my ordination training. I am married to Adrian and have two daughters, now at university. I am passionate about practical pastoral theology and am looking forward to my curacy in rural ministry.

Jacob Eggertsen
I’m married to Nicola, and we have three girls aged five, three, and eight months. Both Nicola and I are teachers by trade but, for the past four years, we’ve been at Oak Hill (North London) where I completed the MTheol course. In my spare time, I enjoy brewing beer.

Michael Madden
Mike was born in Hemel Hempstead, is married, and has three sons and one granddaughter. His first degree is in engineering from the University of Lancaster where he was a member of the Christian Union, and worshipped at the local Anglican church. Since leaving university Mike has combined a career in the energy industry, (working in over 45 different countries) with serving in various churches in a number of roles. He was also awarded a Masters in Theology from the London School of Theology in 2012, and trained for ordination at St Mellitus College, London between 2017 and 2019.

Judith Marshall
Judith is to serve in Chipping Norton where she has been living and worshipping for over forty years. Having retired after 36 years teaching at the local comprehensive, latterly founding and running the school’s inclusion unit, she feels God is ‘re-tyre-ing’ the wheels, so she’s excited about this new journey.

Andrew McCulloch
Born in Glasgow, Andy studied Engineering then joined a management consultancy in London. He lived at a rehabilitation home before moving to Witney to work with disadvantaged young people. He joined Cogges Church as Operations Director and trained at St Mellitus. Heather and Andy have three children, one was adopted.

Yvonne Mullins
Originally from South Africa and having worked in education for many years, I embarked on a new path in 2016, training at Cuddesdon. I enjoy sharing God’s love with people of all ages and all stages of life by offering abundant hospitality, opportunities to deepen our faith and build loving communities.

Catherine Schneider
I grew up in Hartlepool and came to Oxford University as a student. I then worked with inner-city communities in Liverpool, trained as an NHS manager, got married and had three children. I’ve worked locally in a playgroup, taught French and German and given debt advice for Christians Against Poverty.

Benjamin Clarke
I grew up in Wales and have always loved the outdoors and rugby. After studying theology at St Andrews, I worked in schools in Suffolk and London before considering ordination. I’m married to Lianna and we have two small children, Isla and Rory. To relax I read historical fiction and enjoy single malt whisky.

Claire Gerard
After two years at Trinity College Bristol, where I have loved training for ministry, I am looking forward to joining Hazlemere Church as Assistant Curate. With my family, we are excited to see what God is doing in our new parish, and for the next leg of the adventure.

Stephen Hallett
After 26 years with a global American company with European travel, God wants me to be a vicar in one of the most socially deprived areas of Bletchley. My identity was linked to my sales, but now will my true success be using my time and skills in serving others?

Pat Kerr
My name is Pat Kerr. I grew up in Belfast and moved to England 10 years ago. I am a husband to a beautiful wife and father to two beautiful children. In my previous life, I was a youth worker, supporting young people in peace and reconciliation work before God called me to England. I’m happiest having fun with family and friends. I like to play sports, photography and see how God speaks through the creative.

Isaac Knight
Isaac has spent three years training for ordination at Wycliffe Hall, and is married to Ruth, a Medical Statistician at Oxford University. Isaac is particularly interested in the relationship between faith and sport and having been a Leicester City fan for many years, is now certain that miracles can happen.

Suzanne Johnson
As a wife, mother, and grandmother living in West London, the last thing I expected was a call to serve God as an ordained minister; God, however had different ideas. My idea of bliss, (scuba-diving in sunlit seas) has changed completely as I dive into God’s love by serving His people.

Tracey Jones
Tracey was an ex Naval nurse working in Accident & Emergency and volunteering with the homeless when she finally said, “Yes” to God’s call to ordained ministry. Having lived in the South Pacific, Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands, she hasn’t lost her love of water and occasionally escapes to the river with her kayak.

Kevin Lovell
Until 2016 I ran a career in adult learning and outsourcing alongside being a self-supporting Licensed Lay Minister. Then, following a ‘nudge’ from God, I left work and started Pioneer Ministry training. A call to full time ordained ministry became clear, I now look forward to bringing my pioneering tendencies to Prestwood and Great Hampden.

Mark Nelson
Having been a horticulturist for 20 plus years, it is now time to tend and nurture a different type of garden. I love building community, seeing others flourish, reggae music and knowing that Jesus wants me for a sunbeam obviously. I like to cycle because I love food.

Sally Prendergast
Sally creates bespoke clergy stoles, paints, and teaches needlecraft. Her previous careers include work as a BBC radio presenter, probation officer and teacher. Sally lives with husband Patrick and Harry the English setter. their four adult children live across the UK. She relaxes with crochet, nature and time with friends.