Rev'd Caroline Halmshaw was inducted at St Paul's on 24 July 2023. Before training for ordained ministry, her earlier career was in nursing and midwifery and after further study she worked in International Development in the charity sector. Her focus was on health programmes, especially maternal health and reproductive rights (SRHR). She held senior positions in the charity sector, her last role was at Plan UK. Caroline and her husband Rick both grew up in Radlett in Hertfordshire and have lived mainly in London and Brighton. although Caroline has also lived in Zimbabwe and travelled widely for work.
Caroline's mother Stella is also a vicar, and gave a fascinating talk to the St Paul's congregation in September 2023, which gave us a bit more information about Caroline's background! You can download a copy of this below.
ST PAUL'S PCC
St Paul's PCC (Parochial Church Council) are the group of volunteers whose role is to support the vicar and the church. They meet every four to eight weeks to discuss church matters, including repairs to the church, finances and fundraising. The role of Treasurer is currently a paid position occupied by Sally-Ann Feldman, Brian Feldman & Associates. Our Stewardship Secretary is Jackie Rayer and Electoral Roll Officer is Liz Abbott. Contact details for the PCC and other church members are on the Contact Us page. If you would like to read the annual reports and financial statments for 2022 please download the documents below.
Getting involved in the local community is a huge part of who we are at St Paul's. We aim to offer something for everyone, whether it's joining us in our worship, taking part in one of our social groups or volunteering to help at one of our many events. All details are on the CONTACT US page.
We are very proud of Pat Davies, one of the longest standing members of our congregation. Pat, who was 100 in June 2023, has been awarded the Légion d’Honneur, the highest French order of merit today for her work during the Second World War. Pat Davies was one of the 'Bletchley Girls', working at listening stations around the coast, eavesdropping on German naval radio transmissions and relaying the content to the code breakers at Bletchley Park. “It was interesting work – exciting and serious in equal measure. We didn’t know the significance of the messages we passed on, but we knew the work we were doing was important.” The French Ambassador said the award was given for her "bravery and remarkable contributions to the liberation of our country. We are forever grateful for your commitment and sacrifices". Pat has also been granted The Freedom of the Borough by Hounslow Council. This is the highest honour that a council can bestow and the tradition is maintained as a means whereby public recognition is given to the recipients as an expression of the highest esteem in which they are held by the council and people of the borough. You can read about Pat's 100th birthday celebrations on the Chiswick W4 website here
REV'D MICHAEL RILEY
Father Michael retired in July 2022 after 33 years at St Paul's. Hi final service was an emotional occasion with wonderful music from Tom Torley's brass group and the choir, and heartfelt tributes from members of the congregation including Caroline and Mike Morgan-Jones, Simon Surtees, Stephanie White and Bea Vickers. Warm words were spoken of how Michael's arrival in 1989 had felt like "a breath of fresh air" and how much good work he had done for our parish over the years. He was presented with a photo album of his time at St Paul's as well as vouchers from Trailfinders, John Lewis and M&S. After the service there were drinks in the vicarage garden. Pictures are below, as are the tributes from Caroline and Mike, Stephanie and Bea.
A Tribute to Michael Riley from Mike and Caroline Morgan-Jones
Our association with St Paul’s Church goes back a very long way and we would like to mark the occasion by sending our love and very good wishes to you as you now take early retirement. Many of you here today will not know who we are, because we went to live in the Salisbury area almost 20 years ago, but we have kept in close touch with Michael himself and indeed various members of the current congregation, and kept abreast of goings on at St Paul’s.
When Michael arrived in the late 80s, it was the dawning of a new era. Under the previous incumbent, the congregation had gradually shrunk to perhaps 10 or 12 mostly elderly and Michael was like a breath of fresh air. He was very active, inclusive and generous, the vicarage and garden were opened up to us all and word soon got round that things were different at St Paul’s and the congregation gradually grew. One of his skills in the early days was finding the appropriate people to help him develop his ideas – for instance Pat Davies and I helped to launch a Parish Magazine – a total innovation for St Paul’s.
Michael married Mike and myself in October 1990 and over the years has christened four of our grandchildren /step grandchildren. I planted the Magnolia Stellata in the garden in 1981 where my late husband’s ashes are buried, along with those of many more people whose ashes are buried in the bed, so you can see our connection with St Paul’s remains very strong.
Sadly the passing years have taken their toll, as they have on all of us and a new home and way of life beckons you. We shall keep in touch with you and wish you all happiness and joy in your new life – and we shall also watch with great interest the developments at St Pauls! Mike and I wish you a well deserved retirement and thank you for all you did for us and for all that you have done particularly in the early years to transform a failing Parish to what St. Paul’s Church is today.
A Tribute to Michael Riley from Stephanie White
Roderick and I have been worshiping here for over fifty years! During that time, we have seen two vicars and a period of interregnum, hopefully a longer one than the one which we are facing now!
Last week, our gospel reading was about Martha and Mary: the contrast between a practical and a reflective faith. I am definitely a busy-bee of a Martha, but I recognise my own need to be around the Marys of this world whose faith is more profound. I have definitely found that stable faith in Father Michael’s ministry.
I’d like to thank him today for three things: his open church; his tolerance; and his generosity of spirit.
Open church means two things to me: firstly, the fact that the church itself is physically open each day; and secondly the fact Father Michael has allowed it to be used for so many things which benefit the congregation and the wider community. Think of all the wonderful concerts we have had here, the musical evenings and the personal celebrations he has allowed. We held our fortieth wedding anniversary here!
It is quite a gift to be strong in your own beliefs, yet tolerant and open to other patterns of behaviour and belief. How many of us are here in this congregation today because of that tolerance? There are ex Methodists and Catholics among our regular worshippers and often visitors from another faith entirely, who find this a welcoming community. Father Michael has demonstrated the value of trying to see the best in people and show them loving kindness rather than be too ready to pass judgement. I am personally grateful to him for the help he has given to refugee friends of mine.
Finally, Father Michael has been very generous both with his own time and with his personal space. When we come to pray for the sick in church, I am reminded of his second ministry, caring for people at the Convent nursing home. When I look through old photos, I remember how we have always been free to use the vicarage itself and the garden for church events and private celebrations. Youth group members may remember the dens they built in the shrubbery!
We have been very lucky in our vicar and let us hope that Father Michael will be equally lucky in the new life which awaits him.
A Tribute to Father Michael from Bea Vickers
I would like to say a massive thank you to you Michael, from all of us of course, but especially from me and my family for your ministry to us for these last 15 years. It seems like a wonderful co-incidence that the 150th aniverary celebrations are ending with your retirement, as it does feel as if the last six weeks have also been for you. The concerts, the Flower Festival, the Comedy Night; what a great way to end your job!
It's very hard to sum up what you have meant to us all, and particuarly to me personally. There have been times when we were chatting in your kitchen when it felt like I was with an old friend. Sometimes when we were planning Youth Group together, it felt a bit as if we were colleagues. When I came to you with some very private worries - as I know many of us have - then it felt as if you were my therapist (and for me that's quite a strange role reversal!) When you took my sons, first Sam and then three years later Joe, for their confirmation classes, teaching them the architecture of our faith, you were a wise and trusted teacher. But when you led the service and stood with me by my mum's coffin, saying the prayers for the dead, you took the role that no one else in my life over the last 15 years could ever fill - that of my priest.
It is a unique relationship between a vicar and his or her congregation and we have been privileged to have a vicar who is as reliable, good-humoured, wise and (as Stephanie has said) tolerant as you. You are also very modest, and I imagine you're hating this! However, I'm afraid you will have to bear us saying goodbye to you because you will leave an enormous hole here at St Paul's which I promise you no one else will quite be able to fill.
Time and the seasons will pass of course, both in this gorgeous church and in beautiful Grove Park. And God willing, we will find a new priest. But we will never forget you. Maybe in years to come, some words from one of your sermons will come into our minds, or maybe we'll remember just how loud your singing of a favourite hymn could sound when you forgot to turn off your microphone!
So, good luck Father Michael. Go well in Bromley, enjoy your new life and remember; never forget to have breakfast!