Revd. Preb Pippa Thorneycroft


What is your role at St Andrew’s Church and what is it you do?

I look after St Bartholomew's Church in Tong, but I started attending in 1977 and that lit my fire. In 1979 I began training as a Reader and in the inter-regnum between John Turner and Richard Prentis, I found myself taking quite a lot of the funerals and doing the Baptism preparations and pastoral visiting. The next step seemed fairly logical if the Church would have me - which it decided it would in 1985 - though of course at that time women couldn’t be priests, or even deacons. I started training to be a deaconess (which is not the feminine of deacon because not ordained). While I was training they did decide to allow women to be deacons - so I left college with a dog-collar, but it wasn’t till 1994 that we were deemed proper enough to be priests. In fact Chris Thorpe and I were made deacons at the same time, but he went on to be priested the following year.

Is there a particular chapter or verse from the bible which resonates with you more than any other?

St. Luke 12:48 “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded ; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

What is your biggest passion outside of Church life?

Cycling and beekeeping.

Have you got a hidden skill?

Cooking & knitting.

Favourite movie / TV series?

I quite enjoyed the movie Billy Elliot, I've seen that a couple of times. The only things I watch on TV are Countryfile and the Ten o’clock News. I used to zonk out on Sunday nights in front of “Call the Midwife”. I’ve always got 101 things I would rather do.

Favourite book / author?

A lot of the classics, but I recently enjoyed “ How Green was my Valley” by Richard Llewellyn, and I’ve read Hilary Mantel’s trilogy about Thomas Cromwell this year too which I may re-read. I thought “ To catch a king” by Charles Spencer was very good too, especially as it is quite a lot about this area. I don’t want to read thrillers or crime or scary stuff.

Favourite music / musician?

Mozart, but I prefer to live and work in silence.

For people who have just moved to Shifnal, what’s the best way to get started in coming to Church?

Find out what time the services are by looking on the notice board and turn up about 5 minutes beforehand. Walk through the door, find somewhere to sit and watch and listen. If no one speaks to you, don’t go back. Come to Tong! We are having glass doors fitted shortly so that you can see inside without having to broach a solid wooden door. The church is open every day so you can saunter in and get a feel before trying a service.

For people who have lived in Shifnal a long time who may have often thought about coming to St. Andrew’s, but either never got around to it or maybe feel a bit daunted in not knowing where to start, what is the best advice to these people?

If you’ve lived in Shifnal for ever and always intended to try going to church but never got round to it, I should happen to walk by in the quarter of an hour before a service is due to start and see what the people look like who are going in. Do they look pleasant, expectant, upbeat or miserable, part of an in-crowd, and deadly serious? You might even see someone you know that you could talk to about what goes on in that huge old building. In the final analysis the Church isn’t the be-all and end-all, but your relationship with God IS, and church is a good place to get in touch with him.