Bishop heading for the hills in his retirement

AFTER nine years in the role the Bishop of Bedford is set to retire next year and will literally head for the hills - but Richard Inwood believes the local church has a strong future in the county.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 26th August 2011, 6:59 am

Bishop Richard will step down on March 29, 2012. When he took up the post in 2002 he was the first bishop to be consecrated by Rowan Williams after he became Archbishop of Canterbury.

And while he admits that he will miss the people of Bedfordshire when he leave the role and moves to Chesterfield, Bishop Richard said he was looking forward to being able to spend more time on his hobby of mountain walking.

He said: “My wife and I had never lived in this area before, and as we go mountain walking it was quite flat compared to where we had been before.

“But we found people here were enormously welcoming and supportive.

“It’s a small county, and it has a family-feel. We have grown to love it, and one thing we will miss is the intimacy.

“People feel their identity here - if you ask me where I am from I’ll say Burton-on-Trent, not Staffordshire. But people here are proud to say they’re from Bedfordshire.”

When Bishop Richard, 65, left Oxford University he was unsure what career to take.

And after being torn between teaching, chemistry and the church, he spent a year teaching in Uganda, and worked for three years for ICI, before training in the ministry.

Today his three daughters have also followed diverse careers.

One is chief executive of the King’s Arms Project in Bedford, another is looking to return to the Middle East where her husband will be teaching, and a third is translating the Old Testament of The Bible with her husband in Benin in West Africa.

And while Bishop Richard listed a wide range of responsibilities in his role, he made clear his commitment to working with charities.

He said: “There are a number of voluntary organisations I have a responsibility for. I chair a group of trustees in CRSP, which meets prisoners out of Bedford Prison.

“In Luton there’s the LAMP project, and the LCET who do fantastic work with self-harmers.”

And he added: “A priest never really retires. You remain a priest and a bishop, and I hope that I’ll remain a help to the Bishop of Derby.

“It’s a cliche, but I suspect my retirement will be all the fun of being a bishop, and none of the responsibility.”