I’m celebrating a genuine local heroine today. Denise was born here in the village, and grew up to become an invaluable member of our local community. She left school at fifteen to start work as a shop assistant, and later became a professional child-minder. Everyone for miles around has been taken under Denise’s wing at some time or another. She is a devoted daughter, wife, mother, grandmother and friend. She has been a local councillor, a central figure in the local dramatic society, after-school and holiday clubs, monthly lunch sessions, and much more besides. Our friendship began when Denise took on the job of looking after our daughter when DD was five months. Denise lavished as much care and attention on DD as we did!
Denise and her family have always been great supporters of the local church. In 2009, after a lot of soul-searching, she took the first step on the long, hard road to becoming a licensed Reader in the Church of England. This has involved her in hours of study, she’s had to write dozens of essays, complete mountains of coursework and spend periods away from home on residential courses as she prepared to work for the church Gloucestershire. The work was hard and time-consuming, but with her determination fuelled by the support of her family, she refused to give up.
Four years later, all her hard work and sleepless nights have resulted in well-deserved success. Last Saturday, practically our whole village descended on Gloucester cathedral to watch Denise (and seven other new Readers from other parishes around the diocese), receive official recognition by the Bishop of Gloucester. Beforehand, I had the honour of witnessing the signing of her license in the cathedral’s Regimental Chapel, which was a great experience.
The cathedral was packed, the music and ceremony was amazing and afterwards, the sun shone for photographs. Nobody could ask for anything more…but then Denise treated us all to a magnificent feast back in the village club. The centrepiece was this cake, iced with The Lord’s Prayer. It tasted every bit as good as it looked.
Congratulations, Denise! We always knew you could do it – and now you have. Next stop, Lambeth Palace?