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Lancashire: youthwork milestone marked in Chorley

A celebration event was held recently to mark the launch a decade ago of an innovative and unique development in Christian youth work in The Church of England in Lancashire ...

A celebration event was held recently to mark the launch a decade ago of an innovative and unique development in Christian youth work in The Church of England in Lancashire.

In 2005 St Michael’s High School in Chorley became the first church school in the diocese with a full time youth worker/chaplain when Susie Mapledoram moved to Lancashire from the south of England to take up the role.

Susie quickly became established in the school as someone who both students and staff trusted and valued.

Other schools began to realise the impact that a full time youth worker/chaplain could have and so further appointments were made and now, 10 years on, chaplaincy-based youth work continues to develop and grow in nine Anglican high schools and academies in the diocese.

Recently a celebration evening was held to mark a decade of this ministry. Previous and current post holders and those who’ve supported them along the way met up to celebrate the outworking of the vision and to look to the future.

And the celebration was significant for another reason – the youth ministry work has come full circle as Tabitha Smith, who was a pupil at St Michael’s when Susie Mapledoram was chaplain, has become the latest addition to the Diocesan team of youth worker/chaplains!

Tabitha, who lives in Farington Moss, took up her new post at St Wilfrid’s Church of England Academy in Blackburn in September.

She acknowledges that being in a school with full-time youth chaplaincy helped her to grow and develop in her own faith and now she wants to offer the same opportunities to young people.

Commenting on her new appointment, Tabitha said: “In my new role I hope to move from being inspired to being inspiring. It is great to be able to be a blessing in young lives in the same way Susie was in mine. My own story fits in very well with our new Diocesan Vision which emphasises the importance of growing leaders for Jesus Christ.”

Meanwhile Susie continues to serve the Church of England and is now with the Diocese of Manchester as their Diocesan Youth Officer.

The work of the Youth Chaplains was praised today by Stephen Whittaker, Director of the Diocesan Board of Education who said: “Our Youth Chaplains do valuable and important work in our schools, providing support and inspiration to young people across Lancashire. The success of their work is evident in Tabitha’s appointment and in the many countless others whose lives have been influenced by chaplains past and present in the past 10 years.”

Photos: Top: Susie Mapledoram, left, with Tabitha Smith who has followed in her footsteps
Above: The youth workers/chaplains past and present celebrate a decade of ministry in Lancashire schools

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