Whos Who


The Reverend Canon Sally Theakston, Team Rector

I have been the Team Rector, the leader of the Dereham & District Team Ministry, since September 2009.

I was born and brought up in East Yorkshire, first coming to Norfolk in 1980 to study Environmental Science at the University of East Anglia. When I graduated I worked for two years for the Student Christian Movement as the regional representative in the South East of England. During this time I lived in the East End of London. This was a very formative experience and led me to offer myself for ministry within the Church of England, though opportunities for women were limited at that time.

I trained at Ripon College, Cuddesdon, just outside Oxford. I was ordained Deacon at St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1989 to serve as curate in Hackney, East London.  I then crossed the River Thames to Putney, during which time I became one of the first women Priests in the Church of England. In 1996 I became the first female Anglican Chaplain to Her Majesty’s Forces.  I spent six years as a Royal Naval Chaplain including time at sea as Chaplain to a Squadron of Destroyers.  In 2002 I returned to dry land as Team Rector of Gaywood, King’s Lynn.

I am married to Michael and we share the Rectory with a cockatoo, Harvey. I enjoy outdoor pursuits and am passionate about travel.



The Reverend Gill Wells, Team Vicar

I was licenced in February 2015 as Team Vicar to the Dereham and District team, with special responsibility for the parishes of Shipdham and Bradenham. 
Born in the East End of London, I grew up in Harlow and eventually moved to Norfolk in 1974, where both my children were born.  I am married to Bernie and we have three adult children and three grandchildren.

I’ve had a varied career and jobs have included medical secretary, IT trainer, running a B&B for six years and teaching and managing adult literacy and numeracy classes.  I’ve been involved in church life for as long as can remember and gradually took on more responsibility in the parishes. 

Reepham was my home for 29 years and I resisted the call to ministry for most of that time until, in 2005, a dear friend challenged me about my vocation.  I was accepted for training  in 2007 and felt called to work as an Ordained Local Minister, training on a regional course.  My curacy was spent in the Reepham Benefice and, at the end of my curacy and to my surprise, I was invited to apply for a part-time post in the Dereham team. 

Bernie and I are happily settled in Shipdham Rectory and, as keen bird-watchers, we are thrilled with the many birds in our garden.  We also enjoy bell-ringing, walking and spending time with friends and family – especially our three lively grandchildren!

The Reverend Dominique Turnham, Team Curate

I have been the curate in the team since July 2015. This is my first role since I was ordained. Being a curate means that I am serving the community while training under the supervision of Sally. 

I grew up in Surrey and came to faith while studying Theology at the University of Cambridge. It was there that I met my husband, Ed. I gradually became aware that God was calling me to ministry. After graduating from Cambridge, I explored this calling by serving as pastoral assistant at a church in South Africa and then for a further year in Camden. Ed and I married in July 2013 and I began training for ordination at St Stephen's House, Oxford. There I gained my MTh before being ordained at Norwich Cathedral.

Ed and I love living in Toftwood and feel incredibly blessed to have been called to the beautiful county of Norfolk. When Ed is not working as a junior doctor, he enjoys singing or leading the music in our churches. We share our house with a Yorkshire Terrier called George and a Bernese Mountain Dog called Bella. 

The Reverend Jane Nursey, Ordained Local Minister

I moved to Dereham in 1989 when I started attending St Nicholas; originally sitting in the pews, progressing to helping with our childrens' work and then with the encouragement of clergy and friends, I answered the call to ministry.  After training on a part-time local scheme through the Norwich Diocese I was ordained as an Ordained Local Minister in October 2007.  I have worked in Dereham for 15 years at the local library - a great place to meet people in the community - but in March 2011, I relinquished this position to take up part-time Chaplaincy at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Since January 2015, this has become a full-time post.

I am married to Brian and we have three children, (now adults themselves), and are now proud grandparents. We have really enjoyed living in the town as our family have grown up; the children attended local schools and kept us busy with the many activities and clubs they attended over the years.  Relaxation for me ... ... walking locally with our dog, taking time out to go to the beautiful Norfolk Coast, - and meeting up with family and friends would be top on my list!

The Reverend Kenneth Pilgrim, Non Stipendiary Minister 

In 1987 I became a Lay Reader in the Dover Deanery, first in a town parish and then in two rural benefices.  I also began a long-standing involvement with Deanery and Diocesan Synods.  Five years later I pursued a period of further academic study, which lead to a Masters degree in 1994.  Then in 1998 I began my training for ordination, and was ordained into Local Ministry in Canterbury Cathedral in 2001, and priested there the following year.  I served my title and curacy in a Benefice near Folkestone, consisting of four rural churches.

After moving to Norfolk I joined the Dereham Team in 2004 as an Assistant Priest, where I continue to serve our village churches as a Non Stipendiary Minister, and also act as chaplain for Bilney Hall residential home. 

Lydia Crick, Reader

I was licensed as a Reader in September 2008.  My decision to become a Reader was a gradual one.

As a child, I went to St Peter's Harold Wood, Essex, quite an evangelical church.  Then as a student, I joined the Christian Union at Loughborough University.  It was about 10 years ago when the then Team Vicar, Heather Turner was licensed that I realised, in the middle of her licensing, that God was calling me too.  It took a little longer before I discovered that this calling was to the role of a Reader.  I was seriously ill twice during my training, but my successful recovery both times confirmed this calling.

I went back to work after recovering my health but gave up working when I became licensed as a Reader.  I found that nearly dying has given me a different view of what is important in life and working out my remaining years for a pension was not that vital.  I worked as a library and information specialist in the public sector, most of the time for the Ministry of Agriculture finishing as the ADAS Librarian providing specialist information services to the professional and technical staff.  I had a spell in the NHS and finally as the College Librarian for Easton College.

It was at University that I heard a preacher, possibly John Stott, talk about how the father ran to meet his returning wayward son in the parable of the Prodigal Son.  This has been one of the most important things I have learnt.  God loves so much that He doesn’t passively wait for us to come to Him but runs towards us: the father “had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him” (Luke 15: 20)

Alan Barrett, Reader

I was born and brought up in Accrington, Lancashire and lived there until the age of 15 when I joined the Royal Air Force as a boy entrant and served for a little over 33 years.  I came to Dereham with my wife, Jennifer, from Germany in 1989 accompanied by our sons, Simon and Jamie. 

Throughout my Air Force career I was always pretty active in the church and served as church warden and sacristan at many establishments.  When we first arrived we started attending Swanton Morley Church but after a short while moved into Scarning and we became part of the St Nicholas congregation.  I served on the PCC for a while and was a member of Deanery Synod, I also led one of the home bible groups. 

After I left the RAF for reasons best known to himself the then Rector, Dennis Rider, asked if I would be interested in training to become a Local Non Stipendary Minister.  This came as quite a shock to me, and I had to think long and hard about his unexpected suggestion but after some time I decided that serving as a Reader was more in my line of ministry, especially so since I had just started a new job working in Norwich Prison and became active there in assisting the Samaritans to train prisoners as Listeners. 

I was licensed as a Reader in 2000 as part of the first group by our 'new' Bishop Graham and thoroughly enjoy my ministry especially in my role as Chaplain to 1249 (Dereham) Squadron of the Air Training Corps.

Jennifer and I are now both retired but we are kept very active with our three grand children, Callum, Evie and Eleanor.

Evelyn Speed, Reader

I have been happily married to Doug for 50 years. We have 2 children and 5 grandchildren.

I was first licensed as a Lay Reader in 1984, when I was the Supervisor of the Grove School Play Group, Dereham.

In 1988, I started nurse training, as a mature student, and followed an intensive career as a Specialist Care of the Elderly Nurse and then as a Health Visitor to the Fakenham area.  I was retired on ill-health grounds in 2000 following a poor recovery after spinal surgery.  The latter part of my nursing career was very demanding, resulting in me being unable to fulfil my responsibilities as a Reader, causing a break from this Ministry between 1995 and 2011.

Following my enforced retirement, my husband and I moved to Hampshire, where I slowly recovered and found my feet again.  After 6½ years the ‘pull’ of Norfolk was so strong that we moved back to Dereham in 2010.  This was a massive decision, but this is where our hearts belong.  It was only a short time before the Lord’s call to serve came again, strong and clear, with a particular ministry to children’s worship.  I was welcomed and re-licensed at Norwich Cathedral in September 2011.

I am now very much involved in working with children at St Nicholas Church.  I help to lead Messy Church, being particularly involved with the craft activities, and am helped by a very supportive group of volunteers. I also set up 'Tea n Tots' group for under-threes and their carers, which is supported by our Mothers Union, who help to run the group. 

I feel honoured to be able to serve my Lord, and that I am given the opportunity to serve God in the way I feel called.  I give thanks that He gives me the skills to follow through with this precious work.

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