Yarmouth vicar’s new ministry

AFTER more than a decade sharing her congregation’s joys and sorrows Great Yarmouth team vicar the Rev Irene Knowles is preparing for a new ministry.

Mrs Knowles is set to take up the post of rector to the Pilgrim Benefice in south Norfolk in February.

Her husband, the Rev Richard Knowles, will also be retiring early as rector of St John and St James churches in south Yarmouth due to ill-health.

The couple moved to Yarmouth more than 11 years ago when Mrs Knowles was ordained. In her role as vicar in the Great Yarmouth team ministry, and rural dean of Yarmouth, she has played a pivotal role in the life of the borough.

Her responsibilities included chaplaincy work for the police, Royal British Legion, Great Yarmouth and Waveney Mental Health Trust and the James Paget University Hospital.

Currently leading the congregation at St Mary’s, in Southtown, and St Luke’s, Cobholm, she will be swapping urban life for quiet country villages.

Mrs Knowles said: “I have been here for 11 and a half years so it has been a big part in my life. I grew up in the country, so I am not a stranger to rural life. My work as a rural dean has also taken in the parishes from Belton right through Yarmouth to the Fleggs.

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“I have enjoyed the variety of ministry in Yarmouth – life here is very varied, there is affluence and poverty. During my time we received many asylum seekers and migrant workers, which was something of a cultural change.

“It has been a privilege to serve in the community sharing people’s greatest joys and sadnesses.”

Mrs Knowles, 62, decided to take up her new post at the invitation of the Bishop of Thetford and application to the Pilgrim Benefice.

Husband Richard, 63, had been forced to give up his role as vicar after being diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome.

The couple, who have been married 35 years, have four grown up children and five grandchildren.

Brought up in a Christian family, Mrs Knowles lost her faith as a young woman before returning to the religion.

She said: “I had a time of rebellion in my 20s, but went back into the fold. When I returned it was a decision for myself rather than doing it for my parents. I have always believed that Christianity is about more than faith in God, but trying to follow the example of Jesus in everyday life.

“Rather than just attending or conducting Sunday service, it is recognising the effect God can have working for good in all aspects of our lives.”