Local Face: Glenys Newman

Although not a native Wendoverian, Glenys Newman has more than integrated into the town she has called home for the past 16 years. Born in Plymouth in 1944 she is a true Plymouthian as her parents were born there, too. Glenys was an only child and her Father was in the Royal Navy, so the family moved around a lot, although always returning home to Plymouth. Some of her happiest memories were of Malta, where they lived from 1958-62. Glenys attended the Royal Naval School and took her “O levels” out there. It was very hard returning to Plymouth in the middle of the sixth form and having to drop ‘A’ level Biology and pick up Maths. but somehow she got through and went off to London to read Chemistry.

After graduating, Glenys qualified as a teacher, and got her first teaching job in Luton. She taught Chemistry for a total of 20 years, interspersed with time off having her son and daughter. The majority of these teaching years were spent in Harpenden where Glenys was also Head of Sixth Form.

Glenys finally moved to Wendover “a wonderful place to be!” in 1990 when she married Wilfred – “one of the best decisions I have made in my life!” Since then, she has thrown herself into village life: she is the Clerk to the Trustees for Wendover Community Trust and also the Wendover Link for Bucks Association for Blind and Partially Sighted People. Somehow, she also finds time to enjoy going to the theatre and concerts; walking and being in the countryside; singing (after being in a choir for 30 years); travelling; and most recently, taking up the piano again after 45 years!

Her newest commitment however is one that has been years in the making. Glenys has become increasingly involved with St Mary’s Church, which led to a very special day in her life. On Saturday 4th November, in Christ Church Cathedral Oxford, Glenys Newman was admitted to the Office of Reader in the Church of England and Licensed to the Office of Licensed Lay Minister in the Parish of St Mary’s, Wendover and St. Michael’s, Halton.

Over a number of years, the Church has recognised that it doesn’t just need more priests; it needs more motivated lay people who are encouraged to develop their God-given gifts. The Office of Reader is a distinctive lay vocation and can be traced back to 1866. The training in the Diocese of Oxford, where Readers are known as Licensed Lay Ministers, is very flexible and is done by Portfolio: Glenys was in training for three years. There are around 10,000 Readers today, both men and women in almost equal numbers. Although Readers are Licensed by a Bishop, this is not the same as ordination as there is no laying-on of hands.

The role is very wide and flexible. It can involve preaching and leading services, taking funerals, being involved in baptism, wedding and confirmation preparation, pastoral work, educational work, mission and evangelism. Some Readers work in prisons or hospitals. Glenys says, “I am sure it will be challenging, not least trying to balance the demands of this new ministry with that of home, family and friends. I am sure that some people think that I must be mad to have embarked on this at the age of 62 when I am supposed to be retired! But, I believe that God has work for me to do here, and I am prepared to put myself out to do it. I am excited at the prospect of being more involved in the life of Wendover as a Reader and Licensed Lay Minister”.