Getting to know our new Curate is like reading a good novel you just have to keep turning over the pages to see what happens next!
Now aged 34, the Revd Paul Hambling has an enviable breadth of experience behind him. A Hadleigh boy, he was educated at local schools, leaving High School at 16 for a job at Tesco. He stayed there for ten years, working his way up from shelf-stacker to grocery supervisor. And at the same time, he was an active member of his local church.
Though not from a particularly religious background, Paul had had a strong Christian faith from childhood, but his first inkling of Gods plans for his life came when he was just 17, during a parish retreat in Bruges. The prayerfulness of the convent and the wonderful sense of community and fun he felt with his fellow-parishioners had a profound effect on him, and he sensed, with some surprise, that God was calling him to the priesthood.
Paul continued to work for Tesco while his vocation became clearer, but in 1997 he decided that he really needed to take stock of his life, and took off to Australia for five months. "Even there," he said, "I couldnt escape from God and what he was asking me to do."
Back home, he continued to earn his living in retail management, but then, step by step, began to make his calling reality. He first went away for eight months to Hillfield Friary, taking a course in Christian Discipleship and sharing prayer and community life with the Franciscans. A years work experience came next as Parish Assistant in the inner-city area of Clerkenwell, London.
He returned to retail, including six months as Night Manager of Buyright. "But Id had enough of retail after that," he says with a chuckle, and moved to completely different work with adults with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour. "In fact," he says, "that was the only job that gave me any true satisfaction." Still earning his bread and butter by day, he enrolled at West Suffolk College on a two-year extra-mural course for access to Higher Education. (continued ...)
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