The Parish of Sandal Magna

Who am I and where do I fit in? Richard Hughes


When were you born and where?
I was born in Feb 1968, in Croydon, South London, where I grew up as the second of 4 boys in a close, active and as you would expect with 4 boys a fairly competitive family.

Do you have any interesting family memories?
My parents took up sailing lessons when we were very young, and as money was tight, Dad built a Mirror dinghy from a kit, doing most of the preparation work on the dining room table. He later built a tiny dinghy for us as kids to learn to sail single-handed. Summer holidays were spent on a very basic campsite in Pembrokeshire, for 5 weeks, as it cost no more to live in a tent than to live at home! Journeys to Wales were eventful, with memories of driving through the Brecon Beacons towing a boat, and going up steep hills, the car would eventually grind to a halt, and we’d all have to get out and help push the car and boat to the top of the hill, and then jump back in to continue on. Summers were spent learning to canoe, sail, windsurf, and freedom to explore; creating a love of the outdoors that has stayed with me.

Who influenced you most in your life?
I guess it would be my parents primarily, who brought my brothers and I up to be independently minded, and equipped us with the skills and attitudes that we would need as adults. Our house was always an open house, Mum and Dad ran youth groups, home groups, and welcomed all our friends into the house, no one was ever turned away. They also encouraged me in faith, and also encouraged me to develop my musical talents. I still reflect back in amazement, and gratitude at how they managed to scrape together enough money to buy musical instruments and pay for lessons.

How did you come to faith?
Growing up in a Christian family, I was very familiar with Christianity, and I remember thinking as a 15 year old that whilst it was a good thing, it was likely to be a boring life, so I committed to having a fun life, and then commit to Christianity later in life!
However, later that summer I attended a youth camp in North Wales, and met people my age, who were Christians, and seemed to be having a good life, not at all boring! The teaching at the camp also started to challenge me, with the question of whether I had a relationship with Christ? That week I started a journey, accepting Jesus as God’s Son, and my Saviour. That journey has been a winding road. and I recall as an 18 year old mistakenly thinking; I know it all, I read my bible most days, prayed regularly, what’s left to learn? How wrong could I be? Some years later, I took a year out from work to travel round the world. Whilst in Australia and facing a crossroads in my life, I came across a Youth With a Mission (YWAM) school in Brisbane, and ended up staying for 2 months, helping out with maintenance at the school and living alongside other young people who were taking part in a Discipleship Training School (DTS). As I plastered, painted, and did general repairs, I started asking God what he wanted me to do, regarding my life for the next 8 months? I then saw that what these young people were learning on their DTS, was so much more than I knew or had experienced in understanding of faith. It dawned on me that the answer was to apply for a DTS. I did so, and ended up at a school 5 feet from the sea at the end of 15km dirt track in New Zealand. What I learnt and experienced during those 6 months, both in the study, and on outreach in the Philippines and Singapore, has stayed with me to this day, and not a week goes by when I don’t reflect on those times, the challenges, the learning, and the friends made. In addition to my parents, a couple who have most influenced me are Dave and Julie Way, who ran the YWAM school in Brisbane and have lived by faith for many years, trusting God, and being utterly committed to Him. They welcomed me, and challenged me!

How do you occupy your time?
Perhaps too much time is spent consumed by work, as Head of Tax IT for HSBC Bank. However, music, worship, windsurfing, cycling and, most importantly, my wife Ange are my preferred time consumers!

What recent experience of God stands out for you?
Not so much a specific, but a regular occurrence: As a worship leader at St Helen’s, it can often be a challenge to prepare a service that is ‘right’ for those attending, and that allows people to come into God’s presence. Whilst I’ll prepare by praying, reading, and selecting songs, I’m often humbled to recognise that God often takes these offerings, and blends them together with the message and prayers that are spoken, in a way far greater than we could plan in our own ability. It’s encouraging to hear that a service has provided a time for people to meet with or been touched by God.

If there was one thing you could change in the world, what would it be and why?
How we as humans, including myself, could learn to deal with our anger and hatred in better ways. I remember being in the Lake District with Ange after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and sat on top of a mountain perplexed by the contrast of the peace and beauty of creation around me, with the hatred of the attacks. I guess we all need grace to deal with who we are and how we are?

Share something you get excited about in your life?
Going full speed on my windsurfer approaching a wave, with big fear as to whether I can successfully jump off the top, and more importantly land it!

What is your favourite film, work of art, book, piece of music or band?
Film; Gregory’s Girl. Book; Sheldon Vanauken’s A Severe Mercy. Band; The Alarm.




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