By Claire Cooper
When Sandra Hall was preparing to take up her first post in the ministry, as assistant curate at Holy Trinity Church, she was given one simple piece of advice: “Love the people and they will love you back.”
It’s advice that has served her well, for as Sandra prepares to leave the village to take up her first parish she’s been humbled by the heartfelt messages from parishioners who are clearly very sorry to see her go.
“Leaving is going to be very hard and I can’t help but feel sad,” said Sandra. “I’ve made some wonderful friends here and the village will always have a special place in my heart.”
Sandra has been appointed priest-in-charge in the parish of Slinfold and Itchingfield, near Horsham. Her last service at Holy Trinity will be on April 19.
“It’s going to be a sad day,” said Sandra. “When it was announced that I was leaving I had many tears. I just hope I can hold it together.”
Sandra arrived in Cuckfield in June 2010.
“I came here straight after ordination so this was my training parish,” said Sandra. “It was all very exciting - my first year as a deacon.”
She was ordained priest in the parish in June 2011, with two other women priests. “It was a magnificent service. The church was completely full and the music and singing were fantastic.”
Sandra always knew she would leave the village when her training ended but was delighted to extend her stay after vicar Nick Wetherall retired. “My training finished last year but because Nick was leaving I was allowed to stay and look after the parish while a replacement was found. It’s been a great experience for me.”
She also used the time to look for her next post. “Slinfold and Itchingfield appealed to me straight away,” said Sandra. “I’m a country girl at heart and grew up on a farm, so a parish in the countryside was perfect.” The parish has two churches and covers four lovely villages. “It’s also only about a 35 minute drive from Cuckfield, so it doesn’t feel like I’m going too far away!”
Sandra was born in Leatherhead but shortly afterwards the family moved to Ovingdean. “So I always thought of myself as a Sussex girl!”
After leaving school she worked in the accounts department of American Express, and as a farm secretary, before spending many years in the sales team of Bass Charrington. “I also worked as a driving instructor for 4 years after being made redundant,” Sandra recalled.
Read full article on pages 10/11.