Wharfedale mum with cancer ordained as deacon

Ilkley Gazette: Beverley Sproats with her children Barnaby, Eve and Ivan. Beverley Sproats with her children Barnaby, Eve and Ivan.

A mother-of-three who is being treated for breast cancer is among eight people who were ordained as deacon in Bradford Cathedral yesterday.

Beverley Sproats, a former church warden at All Saints’ Church in Ilkley, will be ordained as deacon by the Bishop of Bradford, the the Rt Rev Nick Baines and will be working at St John’s Church, Yeadon.

Beverley was diagnosed with breast cancer halfway through her training and the ordination comes in between her chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment.

She said: “I’m delighted that the ordination occurs during a gap in the treatment and I can take part with everyone else. The worst part was the shock of finding out, but from the beginning I’ve been helped by the words of Terry Waite, who, when he was held in captivity in Beirut vowed that he’d have ‘No regrets, no self pity and no sentimentality’. And I’d add to that being deliberately thankful each day - that’s been really helpful in avoiding slipping into a spiral of negative thoughts.”

And she says she’s grateful for many things: “I’ve had amazing prayer and practical support from people, and I’m really grateful that the college has enabled me to carry on, almost as normal, without becoming defined by the cancer. I’ve drawn closer to God, because I’ve felt completely dependent upon him, and having never been ill before, I’ve got a better awareness of what that really means for people. The treatment has also brought me into contact with loads of people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.”

Beverley has been training at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, to where she had moved with her husband Graeme and their three children, Barnaby, 12, Eve, nine and seven-year-old Ivan. Before that they lived in Burley-in-Wharfedale and she was a church warden at All Saints’, Ilkley. She originally graduated in physics from Oxford University and worked as a a petroleum engineer with Shell, where she met her husband.

She added: “Life isn’t neatly packaged up and I’m still in the middle of a journey I hadn’t anticipated. Obviously there are good days and bad days, but I’m glad to be able to rejoice in the gift of each new day and the assurance of knowing God is there, even in the darker moments.”

Also among those ordained was Christopher Phillips, who will be working at St Margaret’s, Ilkley. Christopher read Theology at Oxford University. He is married to Hannah and they have three young children. Before ordination, Christopher worked for Durham University Students’ Union and then for a national youth homelessness charity.

Ian Widdowson, who lives in Addingham, and is married to Margaret, was ordained as deacon and will work at Christ Church, Skipton with St Mary, Carleton.

Six people were also ordained as priest on Saturday evening, having spent a year in their parishes. This includes Paul Wheelhouse, of St Mary’s, Burley-in-Wharfedale.

Diocesan Director of Ordinands, Canon Ann Turner, said: “It’s great that we continue to sustain healthy numbers for ordination training. And I’m particularly encouraged that we’re seeing an increase in young vocations; in fact, of the 26 people currently enquiring about ordination, four are between 15 and 18!”

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