Local Face: Matthew Ryan

Matthew Ryan is now 22. He spent his early teenage years in Wendover, a very formative part of anyone’s life, and married a Wendover girl. Not unusually, they have moved to Aylesbury, although they would have liked to stay here or to the West Country near Matthew’s parents. Matthew works in Tring and has just founded a 5-a-side football squad with his workmates and friends. They play friendly matches on the astroturf in Tring and should be fit enough to join the local league in September. A lot of Matthew’s time is spent studying to become a Certified Chartered Accountant.

When Matthew Ryan was 11 years old his whole life changed. His family needed a larger house so that his grandfather could live with them and a suitable property turned up in Wendover. Once they had all moved in together, grandfather automatically found the local church. The rest of the family had not been very “churchey” but decided to accompany him to St Mary’s. They soon found that they really enjoyed being part of that community. After a couple of years, Matthew joined the early teens youth group and went to confirmation classes where he met Amanda.

Life was complete – both Matthew’s and Amanda’s families lived nearby, both fathers were deputy church wardens and everyone was very happy. Then, when he was 16, his family was on the move again and Matthew found himself doing “A”-levels at Torquay Grammar School while he lived in Paignton and Amanda stayed in Wendover. In Wendover, Matthew had just started attending the 16+ Youth Group so in Paignton he joined the local church young people’s group and helped wlth the Boy’s Brigade Anchor Group (5 to 8 year olds). He prayed about his future and felt he should join the Police but needed to be 18 yrs old.

After A – levels, then, he found some seasonal work as a waiter and worked as a volunteer in a school for children with leaming difficulties and started applying for posts.

Matthew was interviewed but unsuccessful with Hampshire Police and Devon & Cornwall.

He became engaged to Amanda, returned to Wendover and succeeded in finding a temporary post with Forte the next day. Then he was summoned to interview with Avon & Somerset Police but once again just missed the post. Matthew decided that the Police was not to be his career. He and Amanda married, and after much prayer and thought, Matthew changed career direction, applied for a job with a firm of accountants in Tring and was successful.

Shortly after they married, Matthew was invited to join St Mary’s Parochial Church Council to represent the younger parishioners. He had already started helping with the Sunday School because of his previous Boys Brigade experience and now he was asked to help with the Churches Together in Wendover Youth Group which meets at Wendover Christian Centre at 7.30pm on Sunday evenings.

This was a new experience for Matthew as he was himself very close in age to the group he was helping to lead. He remembered that while still in Paignton one evening at prayer, he had seen himself surrounded by older teenagers. At the time, he had imagined he was to help with the Paignton group but now it could be a portent for his work in Wendover. The other local leaders, David and Frances Noble and Mike and Jo Newman have been very supportive. Matthew has been able to bring interesting initiatives, for example, Matthew took the group onto the streets of Wendover to video interview innocent passers-by, “What does Christmas mean to you?”. The results of this survey were shown and discussed in a half hour slot during the Churches Together in Wendover Advent Vigil in 1997.

Matthew also became part of the Emmaus team last Lent. This is a popular way for people of all ages to explore Christianity.

In April 1998 Matthew was delighted to see the youth group return from Spring Harvest spiritually together and work very hard at Lighthouse in Great Missenden at the beginning of the summer holiday.

In September 1998, Matthew was part of Paul Hammett’s Monopoly Team (along with Patrick Dean and John Phipps) which raced around London dressed as James Bond and raised £1300 for the Children’ s Society.

The New Year is going to be very exciting for Matthew and Amanda as they are expecting their first baby in May. Congratulations to them both.