The Revd. Claire Towns

Published August 3, 2015 by Vicky Newhouse in

Claire was installed as Vicar of St Barnabas’ Church, Swanmore, on Saturday 21st July 2012 at 2.00 pm.

The Bishop of Portsmouth, The Right Reverend Christopher Foster, and the Archdeacon of the Meon, The Venerable Gavin Collins, led this special service.

Claire comes to us from Beeston, Nottingham, where she was Curate at the church of St John the Baptist.  This is an outer-suburban/town centre and civic church in a large and busy parish of 21,000 people.  There are 170 on the Electoral Roll and the average Sunday attendance is 140, including 20-25 children.

Claire was licensed as a Reader in the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham in 2002, ordained Deacon in 2007, and ordained Priest in 2008.  She was born in Grantham, Lincolnshire, in 1969.

Our Vicar says her passions are:

– making the church a welcome and inclusive place for all

– challenging stigma

– building community

– anything which gives people freedom to be who God made them to be (and that very much includes embracing the range of churchmanship in the village)

– seeing all worship done well, whether formal or informal.

I’m really looking forward to coming to Swanmore,” said Claire. “It seems to me that the village has a lot to offer as a lovely place to live, and I relish the opportunities and challenges of taking on the role of Vicar. I aim to listen and observe and am someone who believes very firmly that all ministry should be built on the foundation of relationship – so I’m looking forward to getting to know people and exploring what journeys of faith we may be called to travel together.”

What did The Rev’d Claire Towns do before she entered full-time ministry?

Between 1987 and 2001, Claire gained a BA (Hons) in Geography at Portsmouth Polytechnic; an MSc in Transportation at the University of Wales; and an MA in Theological Studies at St John’s College, Nottingham.

From 1994 to 1998 Claire worked as a Traffic Engineer/Transport Planner at Fareham Borough Council, Devon County Council and Lincolnshire County Council.

Between 2001 and 2005 Claire worked in the Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, developing new ways of working with ‘difficult to engage’ patients, most of whom had severe mental health problems. Claire spent much one-to-one time with patients and with staff to help them better meet patients’ needs, thus gaining a thorough working knowledge of mental health issues. She also set up and co-facilitated a year-long monthly course in mental health for faith leaders inNottingham.

From 2003-2005 Claire acquired experience counselling adults and teenagers while working on a part-time Postgraduate Diploma in Psychodynamic Counselling at the University of Leicester.

Between 2005-2008 Claire had overall leadership of an Advice & Information Team within the Personality Disorder & Development Network of the Notts Healthcare NHS Trust. This included clinical work with patients as well as the management responsibility. The service was an NHS pilot, a ‘fresh expression’ of mental health services.  Hence, supporting and enabling the members of her team to develop projects from scratch and ‘have a go’ at new ways of working was very much part of her remit.

Claire says she enjoys getting together with friends, growing vegetables, cooking and entertaining, going to the theatre and cinema, walking and reading.  When time permits she loves holidays and travelling – with a special ‘thing’ about off-the-beaten track Greek islands!  She has a dog (Martha) and a cat (Betty).

Claire is also Associate Diocesan Director of Ordinands (ADDO) for the Diocese of Portsmouth. She plays a key role in promoting vocations as well as in discerning the vocations of those called to be ordained in the Church of Englan