A CHAGFORD man was among the recipients of this year’s St Boniface Awards, which honour the unsung heroes of Devon’s Anglican churches, took place during a service
Among those who attended the service at Exeter Cathedral was Terry Bleakman from Chagford. In total, 16 were presented with a medal by the Bishop of Exeter and admitted into the Company of St Boniface.
They included a mother-of-three who trains church volunteers to run antenatal classes, a former engineer who created a bell-ringing simulator to train new bellringers and a woman who helped save her church from closure, growing the congregation from 9 to 40 people.
The youngest recipient, 16-year-old Ukrainian refugee Danyil Taktamyshev, from Torquay was not present to receive his award because he has recently returned to Ukraine.
The awards are named after Devon’s patron saint, Boniface, who was born in Crediton, and have been running for four years.
They aim to honour church volunteers who go above and beyond ‘to serve the people of Devon with joy.’
The Bishop of Plymouth, the Rt Rev James Grier, said in his sermon: ‘These people are exceptional examples of what should be everyday life for Christians, they are the cream of the crop.
‘We want to be people whose faith results in action, it doesn’t matter if we are successful or not, we just keep plodding on, keep going back to where we are called, keep serving.’
Terry, who won an award for using technology to bring the church into the 21st century, said: I just really enjoy meeting people and helping them to express their feelings, it is just a joy every day.
‘We have to remember that this generation has been brought up on technology and if they can’t see what they are used to, then they don’t believe the church is for them.
‘We have to give them the sort of things they experience every day of their lives.’
Naomi Shaw, from Barnstaple, who won an award for her work with Begin Well, an antenatal course run by a number of churches in Devon, said: ‘I think that being pregnant is such a special time in people’s lives and it’s a shame that there isn’t more support out there.
‘Begin Well is somewhere where families can be held and supported and loved by the church and given the right antenatal information.’
Jeanne Jones, from Washfield in the Exe Valley Mission Community, is in her 90s and still leads church services, volunteers at a children’s holiday club and runs a lunch club she began in the 1970s.
She said: “I’m very honoured by the award and was inspired by the service which reminded us that people in the community need help and we must do things as well as talking about it.”